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New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton: Functionality, strength will determine Drew Brees' return to lineup

Saints starting quarterback his missed last four games

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New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said on Thursday that quarterback Drew Brees is being monitored for his functionality and strength to determine how quickly Brees, who has missed the last four games with a rib injury, can return to the lineup.

Brees, who remains on the reserve/injured list, was designated for return to practice Wednesday.

"Throwing without soreness," Payton said. "There's a process and last week with the trainers, he had one throwing day and yesterday (Wednesday), the same way. So it's really (being) asymptomatic, feeling good, strong and like, you can function and be an asset and play well."

THE HIRING PROCESS: Payton also offered his thoughts on the NFL's hiring process for coaches and general managers, which possibly could help with the league's diversification in both areas. Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, considered one of the league's leading candidates for a head coaching position, couldn't land a head coaching job last season as the Chiefs went on to win the Super Bowl.

"I really feel strongly – and it's not going to be this year, already teams are interviewing GMs – but I just feel like, along the lines of this topic of the hiring process, and addressing the lack of minorities in these key positions, I think the process needs to begin the week after the Super Bowl," Payton said. "We're not in any hurry. And the teams, if they're complaining, are generally speaking the teams that are losing consistently.

"I think that allows, then, twofold – it allows teams to really process the direction they want to go, the assistant coaches can begin hiring the following week, and not ask Bieniemy or whoever – in season, during the playoff run – to all of a sudden focus three days on an interview. I hope we can get that changed, because I think that will do two things. It will benefit the clubs in the postseason and more importantly, it will benefit the candidates that are with these clubs.

"I can recall, back in 2000, we were at the Giants and went to the Super Bowl and (Ravens defensive coordinator) Marvin Lewis was a hot name, and (Giants defensive coordinator) John Fox the same way. And both of those two were the defensive coordinators in the Super Bowl. One of them was thought to be going to the Browns – they both interviewed there during the bye or whatnot, and (the Browns) ended up hiring Butch Davis, I think.

"I just think more mistakes are made in a hurry or in a race – no different than how free agency starts for us. I think the hiring cycle for football, front office, head coach, I think it needs to begin the week after the Super Bowl. And I think that would help address some of our inequities that we currently see."

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