Until Sunday's game against Seattle at CenturyLink Field, a 33-27 New Orleans Saints victory, quarterback Drew Brees never had missed a Saints game in person.
The one-week hiatus, even under doctor's orders – wanting to eliminate the possibility of a setback during his recovery from surgery to repair the torn UCL ligament in his right thumb – wasn't exactly a pleasant experience.
"It was weird watching it on TV," a laughing Brees said Wednesday night, during his weekly interview with WWL Radio. "It was really weird. I didn't really like it."
Saints fans will like this: The NFL's all-time leader in passing yards will be back on the sideline Sunday night, for the prime time game between the Saints (2-1) play the Cowboys (3-0) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"Absolutely," Brees said. "I'll be there."
Sunday will be the third game in his Saints career – dating to 2006 – that Brees has missed due to injury, and just his fifth overall. He said the surgery went well and afterward, he was advised to remain in Los Angeles, where the procedure was performed, for 10 days to not flirt with possible swelling and other complications that could occur during travel.
Because the repair included an internal brace – Brees described it as a piece of tape placed on top of the ligament tear, for stability – he was able to begin rehab immediately.
"They say 6-8 weeks (for the recovery process)," he said. "I think I can beat that."
Brees said the injury he suffered, in the first quarter against the Rams in a 27-9 road loss, was the first of its kind for an NFL quarterback on his throwing hand. He said when he hit his hand – on a pass attempt, his hand banged into the hand of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald – he knew what was the injury.
He couldn't grip a football because of the thumb instability. Then, on top of that, after surgery, he couldn't join his teammates during their victory.
"Tough not being with my team," he said. "I never really imagined a scenario like that. This was doctor's orders, this was the best thing for my recovery.
"To watch from afar is really tough, but I couldn't be more proud of our team. Going into that game, I felt really good about our team and our mind-set. Everyone played their heart out. It was an all-around, ultimate team win, everyone contributing in all phases.
"I think it's just that next-man-up mentality that our guys have. We've had to battle through some of this over the years, get into these situations where everybody's contributing, everybody's laying it on the line and finding a way to win."
Brees said he will be available to his teammates during the week, as he always has been.
"I'm still one of the leaders of the team, and a captain," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help. I put my coaching hat on a lot during the course of the week – especially as you're installing your gameplan and you're talking to guys about little nuances, things that you may put into the plan, and here's what I'm seeing and here's why we want to do it this way. So, all that will continue. Nothing's changed there."
What helps is that the Saints have one of the best quarterback rooms in the league, with backups Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill, Coach Sean Payton, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and quarterbacks coach Joe Lomardi.
"I want to help those guys," Brees said. "I want us to win. I want us to be successful, I want them to be successful, both Teddy and Taysom. And so, for me, it's just about putting them and our team in the best position to win and succeed."