Drew Brees completely wasn't given a green light to play in the New Orleans Saints' nationally televised, Sunday night game against Dallas in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But the caution is lessening by the day.
"It's going to be safe to say he's going to throw every day now, continue to rehab and strengthen the shoulder," Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. "I would say, based on the way he's feeling, he's done well. He's improved. His strength – I think all of that has been positive.
"We'll be able to gauge when we get into a full practice today, tomorrow and Friday and have a better idea of to what degree (Brees has improved)."
Brees sat out his first Saints game due to injury (bruised right rotator cuff) on Sunday, a 27-22 road loss to Carolina. His backup, Luke McCown, started his first regular-season game since the 2011 season and completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards. McCown's end zone interception with 69 seconds left would've given the Saints the lead against the Panthers.
Payton said Brees' health, rather than McCown's performance, will determine the playing status of the franchise's all-time leader in every quarterback category.
"He needs to be healthy and we'll play him, and if he's not, we won't," Payton said. "Especially at his position, it's not where he's going to play, but he's only 80 percent. That's something we would never do.
"Luke's job is to come in and be able to function, and he did a real good job of it the other day."
Payton also said the cornerback Keenan Lewis is on schedule to make his first regular-season appearance Sunday. Lewis had surgery to repair a sports hernia during preseason. Fellow New Orleanian Delvin Breaux has started in Lewis' left cornerback spot and could do so again against the Cowboys, as Lewis transitions back into the lineup.
"I do see Keenan having a real good chance to play this week," Payton said. "We've got to be smart with his first week back, just with a total pitch count. But it's a good problem to have.
"Obviously, we'll have more than one defensive package. We've got to find a way to put our best guys out there and then depending on whether it's first, second or third down, that could change."