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New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees confident, but unsure he can play Sunday

New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees confident, but unsure he can play Sunday
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) warms up, in preparation for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans September 20, 2015. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

METAIRIE, La. -- In his nine-plus seasons with the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Drew Brees has never missed a game because of injury.

Brees doesn't want to start now, not if he can help it, not with his team already in an unsettling 0-2 hole heading into a Sunday matchup with the Carolina Panthers (2-0) in Charlotte, N.C.

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When the Saints returned to practice Wednesday to begin prepping for what has now become a crucial game with the Panthers, all eyes were on Brees and his injured throwing shoulder.

An MRI done Monday on Brees revealed a bruised rotator cuff. Brees played the entire game despite being hurt early in the second quarter of Sunday's 26-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

The diagnosis was confirmed Tuesday by Dr. James Andrews, who repaired Brees' torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff almost a decade ago.

Brees was listed as having limited participation in Wednesday's practice and said during his weekly news conference that he's confident he will be able to play through the injury.

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At the same time, the 36-year-old Brees said he will have to be smart about it after taking a direct hit on the shoulder 72 hours earlier while trying to get a pass off against the Bucs.

"Each day you wake up, you see how you feel, maybe what more you can do than the day before," Brees noted. "Obviously, you're dealing with something where you've got to be smart, because you don't want to aggravate it, re-injure it, hurt it more, make it worse. So there's a balance here to what we're doing.

"Just from a pride standpoint, I don't want to miss a game. I want to be there for my team ... I want to play, but this is one of those injuries where you have to be smart."

Brees said he didn't attempt any passes in Wednesday's practice and he will continue to get treatment and test the shoulder as much as he can later in the work week.

Noting that he played before after not throwing for four or five days, Brees said the decision to play or not will be up to him. If he can't go, Saints coach Sean Payton will hand the ball to 12-year veteran Luke McCown.

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Brees said if he is able to play, a decision that will likely be based on how effective he thinks he can be, he doesn't want to operate with a limited play book.

"I have every intention of playing," he said, "but I do have to take it day to day and be smart.\"

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