Michael Thomas is benched for fighting during Saturday’s practice. Here’s what sources say happened

Despite plans for him to return to action this week, Michael Thomas will not be on the field when the Saints play the Chargers on Monday night.

The New Orleans wide receiver was made inactive for the game after getting into a fight with safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson late during Saturday’s practice, according to sources.

Here is an inside look at what happened according to sources.

Tensions had been building between the two players during the session after Gardner-Johnson successfully defended Thomas on a play and talked a little trash to the wide receiver. Thomas was visibly frustrated with Gardner-Johnson and let it be known that he wasn’t happy with the way things were going and voiced his frustrations, telling his teammates that he wanted to get back at the safety.

A few plays later, Thomas came across the field and threw a punch at Gardner-Johnson, who wasn’t looking but had a helmet on, and the two players ended up on the ground throwing punches.   

After Gardner-Johnson and Thomas were separated, some coaches came to restore order. Sources say that Thomas acted disrespectfully toward the coaches. Thomas was sent home for the rest of the day, and on Sunday the team was informed that he would not be playing on Monday night.

Sean Payton’s punishment of Thomas is not considered to be a message to the rest of the team team. A player crossed the line, and he followed the standard set for all players, regardless of their stature. The quick decision to suspend Thomas avoided any distractions since it brought an end to the situation and no one is left wondering how it will get handled.

However, this is not the first time these two players have been involved in a fight. They also got into it last year around the time of the Seattle game, according to sources. Both players are considered to be among the more competitive guys on the team, leading to these types of things. Sometimes how things start — as well as how players act in the aftermath — changes the way these situations are handled.

Typically, though, fights are rare for this team, even during training camp, when it is commonplace to see these things happen around the league. When New Orleans has dustups, they’re usually very minor and end quickly. A full-fledged brawl is rare. 

Thomas was getting on track to play against the Chargers. His week of practice was fine, though some speculated that some of his frustration resulted from working through the injury and getting back up to speed.

The wide receiver will now have two more weeks to get healthy before playing since New Orleans is on a bye after playing Los Angeles. The Saints will continue to lean heavily on Tre’ Quan Smith and Emmanuel Sanders in the passing game.

New Orleans (2-2) has been without Thomas since Week 1 when the wide receiver suffered an ankle sprain near the end of a win over the Buccaneers. There was hope that he would return within a three-week window, but he was held out of action last week against Detroit after practicing in a limited capacity all week.

After the bye, the Saints host Carolina and then go on the road against Chicago.

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