METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints officially have running back Alvin Kamara and receivers Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris back on the active roster in time for Sunday's playoff opener against the Chicago Bears.
Are three were activated to the Saints' roster on Saturday, along with reserve cornerback Patrick Robinson.
Kamara has been sidelined since last Thursday on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Thomas (ankle) and Harris (neck) spent the past three weeks on injured reserve.
The Saints (12-4) are expecting Thomas to be as healthy as he has been since Week 1 after they decided to rest him for the playoffs. Thomas, who missed a total of nine games this season with the injury, has played only 10 quarters all season with quarterback Drew Brees, who missed four games of his own in November and December because of a punctured lung and 11 broken ribs.
"That's hard to believe," Brees said of the limited time he has spent on the field with Thomas, his go-to receiver. "And, again, a testament to our team and all the guys that have stepped up and played such a pivotal role here.
"I'm excited to have Mike back. Excited for Alvin with what he's gone through recently, and just for our whole squad."
Receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who also missed two games on the reserve/COVID-19 list, said earlier this past week that it was "perfect timing" for the Saints' offense to be as complete and healthy as it has been since Week 1.
"If you wanted to predict like, 'How would you want the team to be in terms of at what point of the season would you want everybody to be back healthy and ready to go?' You would say the beginning of the playoffs," Sanders said. "And hopefully we all just last this entire playoff run. You know, one game at a time, obviously. But we got the Bears coming up and we're back at full strength.
"We got Mike. We got Deonte back. Obviously we're still missing [injured receiver Tre'Quan Smith]. But to have those two guys back at practice and just seeing them healthy and fresh, and seeing them fly around ... it feels good to know that we're going into the game with those guys."
Kamara, who was named second-team All-Pro on Friday, was arguably the Saints' most valuable player this season -- especially considering the other absences on offense. He led the NFL with 21 touchdowns and finished third in the league with 1,688 yards from scrimmage.
Kamara ran for six touchdowns in his most recent game, against the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day, to tie a 91-year-old NFL record.
Thomas, who was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year last season after setting a league record with 149 catches, had just 40 receptions for 438 yards with no touchdowns in seven games this season. However, he did have three games with at least eight catches and two games with more than 100 receiving yards while Taysom Hill was at quarterback from Weeks 11-14.
The Saints finished fifth in the NFL in points per game (30.1) and 12th in the NFL in yards per game (376.4) this season. They finished sixth in the league in rushing yards (141.6 per game) -- their highest total since 1983.
It was their highest rushing average and lowest passing yardage average (234.9 per game) in the Brees/Sean Payton era.
In other transactions Saturday, the Saints officially placed veteran guard Nick Easton on injured reserve with a concussion after he started nine games this season. They waived receiver Jake Kumerow. And they elevated WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey and LB Chase Hansen from the practice squad.