Michael Thomas (ankle) returns to Saints practice Wednesday

Michael Thomas hasn't been declared healthy enough to play yet, but he did give Saints fans a reason for encouragement Wednesday.

Thomas returned to practice for the Saints in the middle of the week after missing the last two games with an ankle sprain. Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football noticed Thomas was "moving well" during the open portion of practice.

As NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport tweeted, Thomas would have to prove he's not at risk of further aggravating the ailment that forced him out of twice as many games as he'd previously missed in his entire career. Reinjuring an ankle in Week 4 is not ideal for anyone, and especially not for a Saints team that is expected to be a serious contender and misses Thomas dearly.

Statistically as a team, the Saints' net passing yardage totals haven't fallen off without Thomas, but Drew Brees remains winless without Thomas on the field. Brees is now 0-3 without Thomas and owns a passer rating more than 20 points lower (88.2) than he does with Thomas available (109.2).

Fortunately for New Orleans, Alvin Kamara found a way to pick up the slack in Week 3, becoming a catch-all, do-everything weapon who led the team in receiving and rushing yards per carry in a 37-30 loss to Green Bay. We all know that type of play isn't sustainable on a weekly basis, though, so Thomas' return is important. It just might not be so important that he rushes back to the field with 75 percent of the season still ahead.

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