Saints QB Drew Brees Aims for Week 8 Return to NFL Action

When New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees underwent thumb surgery in mid-September, he was facing a fairly unclear recovery timeline. It could be six weeks, or it could be longer. Now, however, he has revealed that a return to the field could be happening as soon as Sunday afternoon.

According to ESPN's Mike Triplett, the Saints veteran QB has hopes of returning to practice this week and ultimately suiting up against the Arizona Cardinals in week eight. Brees said that he started throwing regular-sized footballs a week ago in preparation for his return. He has also attended practices and participated in individual drills.

"We'll see how it goes. I'd love to [play]. It's a goal," Brees said to ESPN following the Saints' victory over the Bears in Chicago.

Brees has been out of the lineup since a week two loss to the Los Angeles Rams. He suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament after colliding with defensive tackle Aaron Donald and underwent surgery on Sept. 18.

Without Brees in the starting lineup, the Saints have been forging ahead with backup Teddy Bridgewater leading the offense. The former Minnesota Vikings first-round pick has achieved a record of 5-0 while throwing for nine touchdowns and two interceptions. This includes a 36-25 victory over the Chicago Bears and a defense that is believed to be the best in the NFL.

The Saints have a two-game lead in the division over the 4-2 Carolina Panthers and are heading toward a division crown. Although this team will have to continue winning to remain ahead of their rivals. Getting Brees back in the lineup will certainly aid in this pursuit, but that does not mean that head coach Sean Payton is willing to rush the recovery timeline.

"I'll fill you guys in day by day," Payton told Erin Andrews of FOX Sports. "We're not targeting ... We're gonna see how he's doing. And we'll give you the news when we feel like we're ready to."

If Brees can not make a return to the lineup in week eight, he will continue to be out of action for an extended period of time. The Saints have a bye week following this battle with the Arizona Cardinals. The earliest that Brees could return would be in week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons.

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The Saints would prefer to get Brees back in action to further pursue a division crown, but that doesn't mean that they will risk any damage to his thumb by pushing him into action. Payton and his coaching staff have full confidence in both Bridgewater and the surrounding players on this team, and they will not hesitate to keep the status quo if it's best for Brees' health.

(Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty)

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