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New Orleans Saints expect to use two-quarterback approach against Seattle

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SEATTLE PRACTICE 9-16-2019 2019 New Orleans Saints All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert

Seattle – While confirming that starting quarterback Drew Brees would have surgery Wednesday, Sept. 18 to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said the offensive plan for Sunday's game against Seattle will include both remaining quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill.

Payton acknowledged that the heightened need for Hill at quarterback likely will affect his other roles on special teams and as a tight end, but that because he entered the first two games as the third quarterback doesn't automatically mean he'll be No. 2 against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

"I think you do (have to monitor what Hill does in his other roles), and that's you making the assumption he's the No. 2," he said. "We'll approach this game with two quarterbacks and we'll see where we're at with it. We'll have the right plan relative to what those guys are going to be doing."

Asked if having the Seahawks (2-0) prepare for two quarterbacks instead of one might provide a tactical advantage, Payton said, "I think so. I think so."

Bridgewater is in his second season with the Saints and Hill is in his third, though in his first season, he only played on special teams in the final five regular-season games and both playoff games.

"These guys have been here now two seasons (in the offense)," Payton said. "It's just kind of taking a step back and looking at the things that we want to do with those guys in the game, and putting that plan in place during this week of practice."

Bridgewater, who relieved Brees after Brees injured his thumb on the Saints' ninth offensive play against the Rams, completed 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions in the 27-9 loss. Brees is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Bridgewater also started the regular-season finale against Carolina last season, when he completed 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.

"In fairness to him, the game last year really was a tough evaluation," Payton said. Entering the game, the Saints already had clinched the No. 1 seed for the playoffs and many starters rested, including most of the offensive line. It was the first NFL game for both offensive tackles.

"I think we've got a pretty good idea of what he does well," Payton said.

"All the snaps, practice, all the things that we've done. If you watch the tape closely from last week – you watch it, you study it, you see that there's some tough situations that I think would have been difficult for any one of our guys playing. He'll be ready to go. He's a guy that's won before. The most important thing is all the other pieces around him.

"We're looking at a player that we valued coming out, looking at a player that played well at Minnesota. A guy that players respect. A guy that's got good arm strength, can get the ball down the field. He's got traits you're looking for at that position."

While Brees only has missed three games in his Saints career up until now – two of them, regular-season finales after the team had clinched the No. 1 seed – the 2015 game against Carolina, a 27-22 loss, perhaps provides the best example of what the offense can do without him.

In that game, with a week of preparation with the starting offense, Luke McCown completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards and had an end-zone throw to win it at the end, but the attempt was intercepted.

"You pay attention to the strengths of the players that are playing in the game," Payton said. "I thought in that game, Luke played real well. We'll have a plan in place that we think gives our team the best chance to win."

Regarding Brees, Payton said he wouldn't speculate on recovery time but that, currently, there's no plan to place Brees on injured reserve. The Saints on Tuesday signed quarterback J.T. Barrett IV to the practice squad.

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