NFL

Could Drew Brees Return Sooner Than Expected?

The New Orleans Saints have moved through the last few weeks without star quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints are progressing through the situation with much caution, given the severity of Brees’ injuries. However, the star quarterback has taken another step forward in his recovery, so could that mean he’s nearing his return?

Drew Brees suffers fractured ribs, punctured lung

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The Saints took a significant hit in Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers after Drew Brees suffered a rib injury.

An MRI later revealed the severity of the ailment to be far worse than expected, with 11 fractured ribs and a punctured lung. A hit by 49ers defensive tackle Kentavius Street led to Brees becoming sidelined for the last several weeks.

The 41-year-old was placed on the injured reserve on Nov. 20, immediately raising questions concerning his status for the rest of the season. It marked the second straight year that he’s missed significant time, which may become problematic in potentially his final NFL season.

Before the injury, Brees had a solid start to the 2020 season with 2,196 passing yards with 18 touchdowns to three interceptions in the first nine games played. The Saints have handled the recovery process with plenty of patience, which has now taken a significant leap forward.

Saints remain cautious with Drew Brees despite recent progress

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Since Drew Brees was placed on the injured reserve, the Saints have moved forward cautiously.

Brees has used this time to take progressive steps toward his full recovery, which he finally earned medical clearance to return to the practice field. Head coach Sean Payton quickly tempered expectations on Wednesday by stating that his star quarterback still has “got a ways to go.” (H/T Mike Triplett of ESPN)

“We haven’t ruled anything just because we don’t have to,” Payton told reporters after Wednesday’s practice when asked if there is a chance Brees could play Sunday. “He’s got a ways to go still, and he’s someone we’re not gonna just hurry back and just put him in the game.

Although the Saints would love to have Brees back sooner rather than later, the organization has further underlined that the 13-time Pro Bowler is working through a serious injury. They are in no rush to play him before he’s physically ready to handle the responsibility.

New Orleans wants to see Brees throw without any limitations and have a complete range of motion. He is making continued progress, but the team is simply taking all precautions with the situation.

Saints will continue to roll with Taysom Hill

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In Drew Brees’ absence, the Saints have more than right the ship guiding their way toward a tie for the NFC’s best mark.

Backup Taysom Hill has held down the fort going 3-1 as the starter with Brees sidelined. He’s coming off dropping his first game in the Week 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which has elevated the Green Bay Packers to the top NFC playoff seed.

Hill has provided much-needed stability under center by passing for more than 230 yards three times and threw for a pair of touchdown passes in each of the last two games. He has also been a significant factor with his legs, with more than 40 rushing yards three times and four total rushing touchdowns over that span.

New Orleans will need Hill to record a strong performance against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The contest could prove to be pivotal to grabbing the first-round playoff bye.