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Transcript: Quarterback Drew Brees media availability - October 23, 2019

Saints quarterback Drew Brees speaks to the media prior to the week 8 matchup against the Cardinals.

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Are you going to play this week?
"That's the plan. We'll see."

What will go into your decision? Is it your decision?
"Just making sure I can be me."

Is it strictly your call or is it the whole organization? What will go into the whole final decision?
"I'll tell Sean (Payton) if I'm ready and he'll believe me."

You said making sure you're you, do you feel like you're you?
"Yes, I do. But man, I've got to get into practice and get some live reps. I just need some competition."

Have doctors already let you know that you're past the risk of reinjury stage?
"Listen, it's not fully healed I think until three months. That internal brace obviously provides some stability and support, as does the splint. I think it's just that balance of do I need both? Can I get away without the splint? So those decisions will be made as we go along here."

How is taking a snap right now?

Was that going to be the hardest part?
"Yes, just that impact, but no, taking a snap was actually easier than expected. I was able to do that easily before I could feel really comfortable throwing."

Is there any pain tolerance issues you have to deal with?
"No, not at this point. It's really just strength and stability."

How have you ever adjusted to throwing with the brace on?
"I just try not to think about it. Obviously, having something on your thumb that's taped onto your thumb at first it's not the most comfortable thing or normal feeling thing, but (you) just have to make it the norm, right?"

Are you able to grip the ball comfortably?

What is something that would prevent you then from playing?
"Like if I felt like, hey, the ball's not coming out the way it needs to, right? Not as comfortable, not as confident, not as accurate. Those things would be a factor."

Did you throw much today? You don't normally on Wednesdays, right?
"Yes, I did. I did throw today."

So far, so good?
"It's fine. Yes."

What have the last several weeks been like for you as you're just trying to get back to where you were before?
"It has been difficult. Anytime you get injured because you feel like you are just working so hard just to get back to baseline, right? Just to get back to where you were before, but always look for a silver lining, right? I think you do gain perspective, especially maybe from a quarterback position, seeing it from a different angle, right? Preparing to start a game, you are so locked in and you've got your routine, especially gameday you are so focused on (the opponent). I do not ever see our defense hardly during the course of the game. Because when our drive's done, I come to the sideline, pick up the tablet and am sitting there just looking at plays, thinking about the next series and glancing up at the jumbotron every now and then to watch. Special teams (is the same) too for that matter. Standing on the sideline, you really get to see it all from a different perspective and just a lot of the interactions and a lot of things that are taking place that, I do not know, it just makes you appreciate. It makes you appreciate being a part of this team and what we have in regards to just the type of guys and level of communication. We have a great team. Guys love to work hard. Guys love to play for one another. It just makes you want to win for the guy next to you. I've been trying to get back as quickly as I can. I understand this takes time as far as the healing process and that kind of thing. I've been living in the training room for the last four weeks unfortunately. But, just to be back at practice, getting back into the swing of things has been really good."

What was that first day of practice like? I'm sure it wasn't what you wanted to do, but you were there with your teammates?
"Again, I am used to hearing the play call and being the guy that steps in the huddle. To sit back and just to kind of watch that taking place from afar is different. You still just try to play the game. It would be just like being in training camp when you step off and the next group kind of jumps in and you're watching the defense. You're kind of going through the mechanics of what you'd do and how you'd be thinking in your progression. That's how you stay on point. That's how you keep that edge is just playing the game in your mind, even though maybe you're not actually taking the rep."

What did you miss most?
"Just being able to compete with the guys."

What do you think of the job Teddy (Bridgewater) has done?
"I think he's done a phenomenal job. I think he's done a great job. I've just watched our team get better and better. I think that's been the most gratifying thing for me just being a part of this team is just knowing that the sky's the limit and we continue to get better and better in all phases, right? I've seen our defense step up and become one of the best defenses in the league and watch our special teams do some of the things that they've done both in the return game and I think in the protection game. Just watching that all come together and then offensively, (getting) a lot of guys involved, finding a lot of ways to win. That's been great as well just watching everyone grow and watching everyone come together."

Has this stretch been one of Sean Payton's best coaching jobs in your opinion?
"Yes, I think so. Absolutely. Sean always does a great job. I think one of his great strengths is taking the talents and abilities of what he has and maximizing those, right? Putting everybody in the best position to succeed. He does that time and time again, but as you have seen different guys go out with injury and other guys step up and having to shift the lineup around a little bit and do different things, he continues to (do that), him and the whole staff for that matter. Listen, we've got excellent assistant coaches and so all of them together as a group work extremely hard to put us all in the best position to succeed on Sunday."

Did you find yourself doing some coaching?
"Of course. Listen, my role didn't change other than the fact that I had to spend some more time in the training room and I couldn't actually be the one calling the play and throwing the ball. Beyond that, it was making observations like I normally would, trying to give coaching points, even at times trying to relay, hey, I understand what it's like as a quarterback. A play happens and all of a sudden it's like, oh I need to tell this guy something and this guy. I could see Teddy (Bridgewater) do something and kind of have that look like where (we) want to talk to you and you, I would be like, hey, I got him. Because I know what you want to tell him and you take him and we'll tag team it. That is just guys working together. That's just QBs knowing the deal."

You mentioned your perspective from the sideline, obviously you wished the circumstances were different, but are grateful for that perspective and being able to see how enlightening it can be?
"I am grateful for that. I feel like there's always something to learn and certainly perspective can I think make you more grateful. It can, I don't know, I mean perspective is the word, right? The perspective is what allows you to maybe see it from a different angle in a different way, give you a different level of appreciation or gratitude, and maybe enlighten you to a slightly different approach or maybe something that you haven't tried before you've wanted to. There was quite a few things over the last four weeks call it that I've had a chance to see and had a chance to do that I feel like are going to make me a better player."

When did you realize you and Teddy (Bridgewater) kind of spoke the same language of quarterback?
"I think pretty quick. I think that's something that, I don't know. That's a QB thing, right? We got it with Taysom (Hill) too. I think we've got an unbelievable quarterback room and we have a lot of fun together, but man, we all take our job very seriously, right? We're all there to help one another. We're all there to try to get the best out of one another. Regardless of who the guy in the huddle is, man, we're all there to support that guy the best way we can."

You talked about the benchmarks along the way to when you first got the cast off, can you kind of take us through like what were the things you were trying to get to along this rehab?
"I think the first thing was range of motion, right? Trying to just get back to all those. The interesting thing about playing quarterback, I wish, you know what I've got a ball (grabs a football from his locker)…You grip a baseball, right? You're here, right? Even you grip a basketball, you're just kind of dribbling. Maybe you're going to palm it every now and then, but to shoot, it's really on your fingertips. Football is the one where you really have to extend your thumb all the way around into a pretty large angle. Look at the spread between pinky and thumb. That's hard to do and then to provide the type of pressure that's needed with that thumb to then transfer all that energy that you bring from ground force and torque with your body to translate that energy into the ball, right? That was probably the hardest part was just getting it to where I could grip the ball again and grip it with authority, grip it with strength and then be able to guide the ball, maneuver the ball out of my hand."

When did that come roughly?
"Listen, you start with getting the range of motion and then it is, okay, well I cannot grip an NFL ball yet, but I can grip in Nerf ball. I was raiding my kids', seriously like my kids' baskets of balls. I'd take different sizes and we weighed them all, different weights and just gradually go from smaller to larger to heavier and then all the way up to an NFL ball. Even though I could not throw an NFL ball, I was still able to train to throw a ball. A lot of times you say, well, how can you train to throw a ball without throwing a ball? We have ways to train to throw the ball without throwing a ball. I just did all those things, which are things I do in the offseason. I typically won't throw a ball for a while in the offseason, but it doesn't mean I'm not training to throw. I'm always training to throw."

How long have you been throwing an NFL ball?
"Probably two weeks at various degrees. You kind of start shorter and then go intermediate and volume kicks up and intensity kicks up."

Do you feel like you're 100% now or is that fair to say throwing the ball?
"We're getting there."

You're probably not surprised that Michael Thomas' production didn't seem to miss a beat and Teddy (Bridgewater) leaned on him?
"If he's open then throw it to the big man (laughter). Teddy did a good job of that and obviously, Mike keeps doing a good job of getting open, being in the right place. Obviously, he's Mr. Dependable."

Do you think Patrick Peterson offers as much of a challenge of getting the ball to receivers as anyone you've faced?
"Yes, absolutely. He is one of the best corners in the league and he has been for a long time. One of those guys that week in and week out, it's like, all right, who's he starring (covering). Obviously, if that's the case this week, you know who that'll be. We'll play it (as it) comes."

Will you wear a glove if you play?
"No, I won't wear a glove."

Have you ever missed this amount of time away from football?
"Never, I have missed one game in my career before this and that was back in 2015 (having to leave regular season finale) with kind of that freak shoulder deal, so yeah 26 years of football and I only missed one game. That was uncharted territory for me. I can't say I necessarily enjoyed it when it happened, but as we've discussed, there's perspective that comes along with that and silver lining and find a way to be better as a result of it."

How has it been to see your team respond the way they have the last 5 games?
"It's been awesome. I love this team. I love in the face of really any adversity, which I mean, whether it's me or whether it's any other guy going down, right. It requires other guys to step up, right and pick up the slack or kind of fill a void or whatever it might be and I feel like we have had to do that, over the last couple of years. Really, throughout my entire career, you have those years where you can do it or you can't, right? And this team, I think has proven that, guys are ready to step up, guys are ready to rally, and it's brought the best out of this team, which you couldn't ask for anything more."

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