Drew Brees provided a one-word answer when asked if he believes he will play Sunday.
"Yes," the Saints' record-setting quarterback said Wednesday.
And with that, Brees confidently said that he doesn't think his bruised rotator cuff will keep him out against Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Still, confidence in tow, he said that he will have to be cautious and smart with the injury that was sustained to his right (throwing) shoulder in the first half of Sunday's 26-19 loss to Tampa Bay, and affected his performance during the game.
"Each day you wake up, you see how you feel, what maybe more you can do compared to the day before," Brees said. "Obviously, you're dealing with something where you've got to be smart because you don't want to aggravate it, reinjure it, hurt it more, make it worse. So there's a balance to what we're doing here in regard to rehab and recovery and rest, versus trying to get back.
"There have been times when I haven't thrown for four or five days, maybe, and come back and been fine. It's not like I'm not doing things, though, that aren't related to throwing. Even though you may not actually be throwing a football, you're doing strengthening exercises, you're doing things that are throwing related."
Wednesday, Brees didn't throw in practice but "participated in some stuff." The objective, he said, is to make progress each day.
And for a worker bee like Brees, not fully practicing due to injury is grating.
"I'm not used to it, don't like it," he said. "I've obviously dealt with things in the past. I have every intention of playing, but I have to take it day to day. I have to be smart with this, so that's what I'm doing."
Knowing Brees' persona, teammates also expressed a level of surety in his availability.
"You expect him to (play), knowing his toughness," right tackle Zach Strief said. "You know with him the one thing: There won't be a stone unturned for him to get back.
"I know he's feeling better today than yesterday and that's kind of what you're looking for. I think we have confidence that if he can go, he'll go."
Part of Brees' confidence stems from the fact that previously he has returned from the injury to not miss game time, though the affected shoulder then was his non-throwing shoulder. However, Brees said that his 2005 right shoulder injury (a torn labrum in the regular-season finale against Denver) and subsequent rehab after surgery also fortify his resolve that he can be available Sunday.
"When I dislocated my shoulder back in 2005, and rehabbed it throughout 2006, I was told right then by Dr. (James) Andrews, 'You're always going to have to stay on top of this shoulder, you're always going to have to do a little bit extra just to keep it at the level that you want to keep it at,' " Brees said. "And in a lot of ways, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I started doing things that I'd never done before.
"I learned so much about my shoulder and what felt right, and what didn't and how to then do things to maintenance that, to manage that. I felt that my shoulder was stronger than it ever had been before after that rehab process, and I just stayed on a lot of those things.
"Those are things that I continue to fine-tune, continue to add to, maybe tweak a little bit each every offseason. I have a really good maintenance program – throughout the offseason, throughout the season – to make sure that as the season progresses, my shoulder gets stronger as we get toward the end of the season."
Brees has started all 145 regular-season and 10 postseason games he has played as a Saint, only missing the regular-season finale in 2009, when the Saints already had sewn up home-field advantage for the playoffs.
He's hoping to make it 146 on Sunday.
"I don't want to miss a game, I want to be there for my team, I want to play," he said. "But this is one of those injuries where you've got to be smart.
"It's going to be how I feel and how effective I can be."
Photos from Saints practice on Wednesday, September 23, 2015. Photos by Alex Restrepo (New Orleans Saints photos)