Speaking for the first time since sitting out the Saints' week three loss to the Panthers, Drew Brees talked Wednesday about his decision process and ongoing rehabilitation work on his shoulder.
The following is a copy of Brees' session with the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
How did it feel going out there and throwing today?
“Felt good, I’m making progress. I feel a lot better, obviously, today then I did last week. I’m getting a little bit better every day, so I’ll hopefully increase the reps as the week goes on and I feel pretty good about Sunday.”
Does that help you, to be throwing the ball and the reps, just as far as building strength?
“Yeah, there is something different about when you go throw, the mechanics of getting in the huddle calling the play, get them to the ball, going through all your pre-snap reads and actually have to react to an open receiver rather than just standing there at whatever distance away and being very mechanical and calculated about the ball. When you’re in the pocket you have to react quickly. There’s times when you have to throw maybe a little off balance. We call that a funny body throw, when all of a sudden you have to drop down and rip one side-armed. There’s elements that put different stress on the shoulder and so you have to experience those things before you get into live action.”
Did it feel any different today to make a 30 yard pass compared to a 10 yard pass?
“Well, again, this is my first day to have thrown in practice. So I’ll see how the shoulder responds tomorrow and for the rest of the day, but each day I’m able to do more and more and feel stronger and stronger. Each day there is more range of motion, more strength, and so that’s the key.”
How hard was it for you to stand on the sidelines the other day?
“It was tough. Yeah, (I was) just trying to be as in-tune with what was happening and be as helpful as I could be for Luke (McCown) when he came to the sideline. I really just tried to play the game right alongside him. As the play call came in, I was saying it in my own head, you know breaking the huddle at the same time they would, walk to the ball and go through my whole pre-snap routine, and as the ball is snapped you’re immediately kind of going ‘where would my eyes be going, who would I be reading, the ball is coming out here.’ So just going through the progressions right along with Luke.”
Being in that different perspective did you pick anything up that could be helpful?
“Yeah, you know the best thing about it was you get to see the sideline communication, between coaches and players, substitutions, not just offensively, but defensively. You hear conversations, you feel different emotions when you’re in that position versus when you’re kind of locked in to what you’re doing with the offense and just talking to the offensive line and the receivers and this and that. I saw a lot of interesting things. So as I’m trying to kind of look on the bright side of missing a game, it was at times things that you see that you normally wouldn’t see and I think there were a lot of positives I drew from that. Probably the best thing was just watching how in-tune everyone was to the game. Not just their side of the ball, so defensive guys on the sideline cheering on the offense. Offensive side cheering on the defense. Just guys really caring about one another and being passionate and emotional about what’s going on. That was the best thing to see. Guys on this team care, and despite our 0-3 record right now, I’m really excited about the rest of the season for us.”
Drew what was the tell tail for you last week that you couldn’t go and how much better do you feel than that?
“Well really it was about how functional I could be. It was not a pain issue. I mean I was having pain, but you get through that. It was really how functional I could be and being required to do the things I know I need to do to put us in the best position to succeed. As I ramped up some throwing last week, it just became very obvious that I couldn’t do what was needed to be done to put us in a position to win and I didn’t want to drag it out and keep everyone else in this building wondering what was going to happen. I had a conversation with Sean (Payton) and we decided it was best that Luke start and, obviously, I would be there on the sideline for him and for the rest of the guys, but at that time Luke gave us the best chance to win.”
Will the process be the same this week as it was last week or would you drag it out till game time?
“No I wouldn’t do that, but like I said I feel really good about Sunday. You know that’s four days away and I feel like I’ll just continue to make progress and will go from there.”
How is the zip on the ball?
“Yeah, I mean, again, it’s getting there.”
What do you see that Terron Armstead has improved on and how do you feel about him growing in this league?
“Yeah, first just look at his physical traits, I mean he is extremely talented and athletic which helps, but I think the most important thing about him is his mindset and I remember when Sean appointed him the starter back two years ago at the end of that 2013 season, right towards the end of the season. We are having to go to Carolina to basically play for that two seed. He’s going up against Greg Hardy. That was a moment where we all saw this competitive streak in him, where it was his first start and, yeah, he’s a rookie, but he was not fazed by that challenge, he embraced it. He did a great job in that game and just continues to get better ever since then. I’m excited, I think he’s in a great room. When you have a guy like Zach Strief who is on the other side at the right tackle position, who has been through so much, it really helps that he’s teaching him how to be a pro and all those things. Guys like Jahri Evans and Max (Unger), you know we’ve got a lot of veteran guys in that room that can help guide him. He’s one of those guys that came into this league, I think more mature, beyond where a rookie tackle would come into this league. He’s continued to get better.”
Is there a sense that guys are becoming healthy on both sides of the ball and that things could come together?
“Yeah, that’s what we hope. If you look at it, it’s been this way for what seems like a lot of games this year. There are teams that are 2-1, 3-0 every one of their wins came down to that last drive, whether it be offense or defense, and they were able to find a way to win and personally for us we weren’t able to find a way to win, but every one of those games you say we had a chance to win legitimately at the end. Those games weren’t perfect games, there are plenty of things we could have done better throughout the course of the game to maybe not bring it to that point, but bottom line is we had a chance and so that’s the encouraging thing. It’s not like we’re walking away from these games having been blown out, like man, we’re not even giving ourselves a chance. Despite all of our mistakes, we’re still giving ourselves a chance, so just imagine if we could clean up a few of these things. That’s the stuff that’s encouraging.”
What exactly were you able to do today?
“Yeah, I took most of the reps and obviously felt good enough to do that. So just continue to kind of ramp up with volume and intensity as the week goes on.”
No throw was off the table this week?
“No, I mean I was going to temper my enthusiasm with some of the stuff. You know, be smart and just make sure it’s one of these ramp ups and not 0-60.”
What happened to that defense in the second half of the Cowboys-Falcons game?
“The Julio Jones factor. Atlanta ran the ball really well. Matt Ryan threw really well and Julio Jones made a ton of plays. They hit some big plays and ran the ball effectively. That’s a recipe for a lot of production. I think defensively they were doing a lot of the same things, Atlanta just found a way to make some plays.”
What are some of the things that Brandin Cooks does well in the middle of the field and downfield?
“Well he’s obviously a guy who is real versatile. His speed and quickness give you a great matchup on the intermediate stuff and the downfield stuff as well. He is becoming very much a technician in his route running. Where all his routes kind of look the same in that 10-15 yard range and then all of a sudden he runs by you or putting his foot in the ground, making a speed cut or breaking down to come back to you, and so his transition ability is really unique. A guy that quick, and he spends so much time on the fundamentals and mechanics. He wants to be a technician at everything that he does, and so you combine that element with his overall talent, that’s a great combination.”
Do you see those technical things Brandin does well more in short routes compared to deeper routes?
“Well I mean it’s not on deep routes, it’s about speed in a lot of cases, but the underneath stuff there’s a savviness and a patience and that just comes with experience. This guy is coming in to his fourth game in his second year. So we have this time to kind of continue to build on that stuff and I’d say the work that he did in this offseason is lightyears ahead of last year and even mid-season.”
How excited are you about a healthy C.J. Spiller and having a full arsenal?
“It’s great. Obviously we didn’t get a whole lot of time together during training camp so I felt like we’re just starting to see what C.J. can bring to the table. And to compliment him with Mark (Ingram) and Khiry (Robinson) and just what we can do with him in both the run game and the pass game, it gets you excited. He’s a guy that’s kind of maybe (Darren) Sproles in the past that a lot of guys don’t want to cover him and see him in space. He has that breakaway ability and he can turn it on pretty quick.”
If you were to sit out this week, do you see the light at the end of the tunnel for next week?
“Yeah, I mean this has not been a pleasurable experience for me. (I am) Just kind of managing it and making sure we’re all doing the right thing along the way here.”
The contract restructuring, was that a bookkeeping matter to help the team?
“They approached me about doing it for the team and so I was happy to do that.”
Did you have any talks about next year and the cap number at any point?
“No, next year is next year. This year is this year. We have so much football left to be played and that’s my focus and I know that’s the organization’s focus and we will worry about all that other stuff in the offseason.”
The way the team plays at home and in primetime games, is that a reason for some encouragement?
“Yeah, I mean I think this mindset of it doesn’t matter where you play or who you play there is this level of expectations to how we go out there and execute and we feel like we can go out and beat anybody anywhere. Now couple that with a primetime game at home. Obviously, you want to be at your best and certainly at this point in the season where we’re coming off three tough loses and to get that first victory, to break the seal in primetime at home would be a great way to do it.”
Do you have an opinion about whether a guy like Leonard Fournette, should he or should he not be able to leave college early in order to make a living in the NFL?
“Yeah, I guess I haven’t thought of it too much. I mean I would say the reason they allow basketball players, baseball players, well basketball players used to be able to leave from high school, but baseball you still can go straight out. The physical nature of the game, just hard to think that anybody could come right out of high school and come to the NFL or right off his freshman year and come to the NFL. Maybe in a way it’s to protect guys. I would like to see the arguments on both sides. I really don’t know what they are, but I don’t know, it’s interesting.”
Would you trade your college years to play in the NFL?
“I’m sure the folks at LSU wouldn’t like me saying this, but I mean a running back for example you would say every year is wear and tear on their body, so one year less in college is one year more I could play in the NFL, so I would understand his argument if a guy like him said that. See, man, I get it because I know what those guys go through. I know for me, my college years, I would agree with Peyton, I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Those memories and relationships and getting that degree, those are all things that I think are extremely important for a young person. You can argue about the opportunity to make that kind of money and play at that level. I’ m sure you have people on both sides.”
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