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Brees pays visit to Dr. Andrews for shoulder evaluation

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METAIRIE, La. — After missing his first game because of injury in his nine-plus seasons with the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Drew Brees visited orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Monday afternoon that Brees received “very positive” feedback from Andrews after an extensive evaluation of the bruised rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.

During his weekly postgame interview with Cox Sports Television, Brees said after a 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers his ability to return would be based on his arm strength and movement — the two factors that played into his decision to not play Sunday.

Whether the evaluation he received Monday from Andrews allows him to play Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys remains to be seen even though Saints head coach Sean Payton said Brees was showing progress daily.

Brees said Sunday evening he wasn’t sure if he’ll be ready for the matchup with the Cowboys.

While he wasn’t made available to reporters after the game, Brees told CST that he would be “day-to-day” as he continues to rehab his shoulder.

“I don’t know my situation this week,” he said. “I’m day-to-day. Obviously, I plan to and expect to start Sunday. But if I don’t, we’re in good hands with Luke.”

Late last week, Brees determined he didn’t have the strength in his arm to throw down the field with the velocity he needs to be effective — which was evident after he was injured early in a Week 2 game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It’s a matter of functionality. … It’s what I can do with my arm,” he said. “It’s not about pain. It’s about strength, it’s about mobility, it’s about functionality.”

Despite being ruled out of the game on Friday, Brees traveled with the team to Charlotte and was very involved in trying to help McCown, who was making just his 10th start of his NFL career, in any way he could.

Brees did his usual stretching and pregame workout routine, and, as usual, led the Saints’ team chant before warmups began and then put in an earpiece for the start of the game.

He listened to every play-call Payton sent in to McCown and then clapped as he would if he were on the field when his teammates broke the huddle and headed to the line of scrimmage.

“I told him, as the play call would come in, I had the earpiece and I’m calling the play right along with him,” Brees told CST. “I’m clapping my hands breaking the huddle as if I was standing in there next to him.

“I wanted to play the game right alongside him and try to have as much input as I could when he came to the sideline,” he added.

“He was real positive,” Payton said. “You know, they look at the pictures and just communicated some things he was seeing. Overall, he was just real supportive and into the game.”

REPORT CARD VS. PANTHERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B. Stepping in for an injured Drew Brees, career backup Luke McCown proved he could run the Saints’ offense efficiently even though they didn’t get a victory against the Panthers. McCown, in just his 10th career start, hit on 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards with one sack. The only thing that marred a good day was an interception by Josh Norman in the end zone with 1:09 left in the game when the Saints were driving to what they hoped would be the go-ahead touchdown. McCown spread the ball around nicely, hitting nine different receivers with five of them finishing with more than 40 yards — including Brandin Cooks’ team-leading 79 yards on seven catches.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D. For the third consecutive game, the Saints had trouble running the ball with any consistency. They finished with 70 yards, but needed 24 attempts to do it. That produced an average of just 2.9 yards per rush with a long gain of nine yards by Mark Ingram — which is just five yards shy of the season-long run of 14 yards by Khiry Robinson in a Week 2 game with Tampa Bay. Ingram had 50 yards on 14 carries with a 5-yard scoring run that gave the Saints a 10-0 lead on the Panthers in the second quarter, but they couldn’t build on that and had just 24 yards on 11 second-half attempts.

–PASS DEFENSE: D. The Saints’ injury-depleted secondary was simply no match for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen from the start. They teamed up for five completions for 109 yards in the first half with an 11-yard touchdown for the Panthers’ first score, then added another 11-yard TD in the third period for a 17-16 lead they never relinquished. Olsen had a 27-yard catch that led to his first touchdown and a 52-yard grab on a second-quarter drive that ended with a game-tying field goal. Ted Ginn Jr. was also a thorn in the Saints’ side with 93 yards on four catches with a 55-yard reception as Newton was 20-of-31 for 315 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. He was sacked just once and had a passer rating of 129.7.

–RUSH DEFENSE: C. Historically, the Saints have had trouble stopping Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. But they did a decent job Sunday, holding him to 52 yards and a 3.7 average on 14 carries before he was injured late in the game. Newton added 33 yards on seven zone-read rushes to help the Panthers finish with 119 yards and a 4.0 average on 30 attempts. Stewart’s 14-yard run was the longest of the day, while Newton had a 13-yarder.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. The Saints rebounded from a poor day a week earlier, especially in the return game, as rookie Marcus Murphy provided most of the highlights with a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter. He finished with 82 yards on two punt returns and also averaged 24.0 yards per kickoff return with a long of 35 yards. Thomas Morstead averaged 46.0 gross yards and 46.0 net yards on two punts and also had four touchbacks among his five kickoffs.

–COACHING: B. Sean Payton had a good game plan going into the game without Brees under center for only the second time in 10 seasons and without four-time All-Pro right guard Jahri Evans. Payton kept things pretty simple for McCown, mixing the short passing game up with a few deeper balls that helped the Saints stay in the game on the road until the very end when they came up just five points short on an interception with 69 seconds to play.


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