Drew Brees has missed the past five games with a thumb injury, but expects to return Sunday against the Cardinals.
The Saints’ star quarterback practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, and when asked by New Orleans reporters if he will play in Week 8, Brees said “that’s the plan.”
The future Hall of Famer had surgery on Sept. 18 after hitting his thumb against Aaron Donald’s helmet in a Week 2 loss to the Rams. Coach Sean Payton said Brees will need to show a few things before returning to the field.
“It’s making sure that it’s healed correctly, he’s got the strength and all those things necessary,” Payton said. “It’s on your throwing hand, and your thumb is almost 50 percent of that. We’ll assess it day-by-day here and keep everyone posted toward the week’s end. We might have to wait until Sunday to see if he’s playing or not.”
Payton said a looming bye week in Week 9 will not affect the decision-making process.
“That’s something a lot of people from the outside in say, ‘Well, let’s rest him one more week and then we have a bye week,’” Payton said. “Look, if he’s ready to play, he’s ready to play. This game is an important game, just as the first game after the bye is important.”
The Saints are 5-0 without Brees, as backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has done a nice job keeping the offense afloat in the interim.
New Orleans is also hoping to have running back Alvin Kamara available. He missed Sunday’s game against the Bears with ankle and knee injuries, which also kept him out of Wednesday’s practice.
The uncertain status of the Saints’ star duo could complicate the Cardinals’ defensive game plan.
“They are two of the greats in the game,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “One all-time great, and Kamara is as good as I’ve seen at that position when you talk about all-around backs. So you prepare as if they’re both going to play. The guys that have been playing for them have been playing at an incredible level as well, so it’s not like there is a significant dropoff, but those two are as talented as there are.”
CARDINALS BEST IN NFL AT PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL
The Cardinals went a third straight game without a turnover against the Giants. They have only four on the season, which is the lowest total in the NFL.
Quarterback Kyler Murray has been impressive for a rookie, as he has the 12th-lowest interception percentage in the NFL at 1.54 and has yet to lose a fumble.
“As many times as we’ve put the ball in his hands, and to have as few turnovers as he has, that’s a credit to him and the way he’s playing the game,” Kingsbury said. “Particularly (Sunday), you saw the nasty conditions, and he took care of the ball. That’s why we won the game. They had three (turnovers) and we had zero.”
Murray has totaled 121 rushing/passing attempts over the past three weeks without a turnover. He said Kingsbury has regularly stressed to him the importance of ball security and smart decisions.
“Turnovers are going to happen, negative plays are going to happen, but that was an emphasis for me,” Murray said. “On Sunday I had a couple, but limiting those. Just throw the ball away or throw it at someone’s feet if nothing’s there.”
CHRISTIAN KIRK GETTING CLOSER TO RETURN
Wide receiver Christian Kirk practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday. He has missed the past three games with a high-ankle sprain, but Kingsbury said he’s making steady progress.
“I’d love to have him back (against New Orleans),” Kingsbury said before practice. “I’m not sure if he will be. We’re going to get him out there today and move him around, and hopefully we feel good about it.”
Running back David Johnson (ankle) did not practice, nor did linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf), running back D.J. Foster (hamstring) or defensive end Zach Allen (neck). Those limited along with Kirk were linebacker Dennis Gardeck (ankle), linebacker Haason Reddick (knee), linebacker Ezekiel Turner (hamstring) and tight end Maxx Williams (ankle).
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, defensive tackle Corey Peters and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs were given rest days.
For the Saints, tight end Jared Cook (ankle), safety J.T. Gray (ankle), cornerback Patrick Robinson (hamstring) and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) did not practice. Cornerback Eli Apple (knee) was limited.
A chronological look at the Cardinals' seventh regular season game against the Giants