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New Orleans Saints designate quarterback Drew Brees for return to practice

Brees has missed four straight games with rib injuries

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The clock ticking on Drew Brees' return got louder, if not more definitive, Wednesday when the New Orleans Saints designated the future Hall of Fame quarterback for return to practice.

Brees remains on the reserve/injured list. There's no injury designation – he wasn't listed on the team's injury report Wednesday – and no timetable for when he has to be activated for game action. The coaching and medical staff will watch him at practice and evaluate, basing any decisions upon that.

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Brees has missed the last four games for the Saints (10-3), who are 3-1 in those games with Taysom Hill as the starter. Brees was sidelined by fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, an accumulation of punishment absorbed earlier this season. He completed 73.5 percent of his passes for 2,196 yards and 18 touchdowns, with three interceptions, before leaving the lineup at halftime of New Orleans' 27-13 victory over San Francisco on Nov. 15.

In Hill's four starts, he has completed 82 of 114 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions, and has run 39 times for 211 yards and four touchdowns.

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