The New Orleans Saints could be without quarterback Drew Brees for a little while longer due to a rotator cuff sprain, which includes some structural damage and he's considered a "long shot" for Week 4, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Brees, 36, is "very optimistic" that he'll be able to return from the injury in time to play the Dallas Cowboys, though. The quarterback told WWL Radio that it's a matter of functionality returning rather than pain subsiding and that the question is, "‘Can I make the throws to put us in the best position to win?'"
He never left a Week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he was injured, but was in some visible discomfort after a sack. On Friday, Saints head coach Sean Payton announced that the quarterback would miss Week 3 with a shoulder injury, but the exact extent of the damage has featured some conflicting reports, including one that it was a bruised rotator cuff, instead of a strain.
While Brees practiced all three days on a limited basis, the team avoided having him throw with his injured arm, although he did so on Friday before he was ruled out.
"He tried to throw on Friday morning," Rapoport said of Brees. "My understanding is that he was not close to being ready, just a couple short throws. He's dealing with inflammation, he's dealing with pain and he's dealing with weakness."
On FOX NFL Sunday, Jay Glazer said that pain from the injury isn't the reason Brees is sitting.
Brees told me he felt good, threw on Friday but couldn't get ball downfield where he wanted. He'd play thru pain but that's not issue— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 27, 2015
Sunday was the first game of Brees' career with the Saints that he missed due to injury. He was sat down for a game late in the 2009 season after the Saints already clinched a postseason berth, but has managed to avoid serious injury since suffering a dislocated shoulder in the season finale of the 2005 season during his time with the San Diego Chargers.
Brees' injured rotator cuff is in the same shoulder that was surgically repaired a decade ago and could keep Luke McCown in the starting lineup for more than just Week 3. In his interview with WWL Radio, Brees had plenty of compliments for McCown and said the veteran backup "played great" in his absence.
In the first two games of the season, Brees tallied just two touchdown passes and two interceptions while the Saints began the season 0-2. He has 398 career touchdowns and needs just two more to join Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to reach 400 touchdowns, although Tom Brady will likely beat him there after seven touchdowns in the first two weeks put the New England Patriots quarterback at 399 for his career.
If Brees isn't able to play in Week 4, a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys would likely feature McCown leading the Saints and Brandon Weeden the Cowboys.