November 22, 2011

Saints End Concussion-Haunted Season of TE Thomas

The best blocker among the Saints' tight ends, TE David Thomas has been placed on injured reserve after apparently suffering another concussion.


Thomas played in the first three games of the season, missed five games with concussion symptoms and recovery, returned against Tampa Bay but in the next game against Atlanta may have suffered another.

One of the best steals in a trade by Mickey Loomis, Thomas was acquired from the tight end-rich Patriots before the 2009 season.  For merely a 2011 seventh round pick, he has been a dependable blocker and solid #2 receiving option at tight end ever since.

Patriots journalist Mike Reiss on ESPN.com noted that the Patriots may have "(given) up on Thomas too early."  The Saints re-signed Thomas to a new three year, $5.5 million deal shortly after the lockout was lifted.

Because of the ascension of Jimmy Graham, Thomas has been used as an infrequently-targeted outlet and a blocking back in his limited availability this season.

With five receptions for 16 yards in five games, Thomas was not an big part of the passing game this year, and less even from his previous seasons.  Last season Thomas caught 30 passes in 13 games and was credited with eight starts.  In 2009, he caught 35 passes in 15 regular season games, and four more in the playoffs including a nine yard reception in Super Bowl XLIV which set up Brees' go-ahead touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey two plays later.

Behind Graham, the Saints have veteran John Gilmore, Jr., a draft pick of the Haslett era returned to New Orleans after nine seasons elsewhere.  Gilmore, after a shaky, penalty-ridden start to the season, has been primary a blocking tight end, playing in the last nine games, credited with two starts.

The Saints promoted rookie TE Michael Higgins off their practice squad.  Undrafted out of Nebraska-Omaha, Higgins was cut after preseason and put on the initial practice squad.

Fullbacks Jed Collins and Korey Hall are also used as versatile blockers, with Collins especially becoming more involved in the passing game as of late.

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