New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees still has “a ways to go” in his injury recovery despite being designated to return to practice, according to head coach Sean Payton.
Brees has been sidelined since suffering rib fractures on each side of his chest and a collapsed right lung in last month’s win over the San Francisco 49ers.
The Super Bowl Champion and MVP quarterback has missed four consecutive NFL games due to the injury, but Brees edged closer to a return on Wednesday.
Asked about Brees ahead of Sunday’s showdown with reigning champions the Kansas City Chiefs, Payton told reports midweek: “We haven’t ruled anything just because we don’t have to.
“He’s got a ways to go still, and he’s someone we’re not gonna just hurry back and just put him in the game.
“I think the significance of the injuries are such that you’ve gotta make sure he can function and feel confident.”
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 16, 2020
The Saints (10-3) are 3-1 in Brees’ absence with Taysom Hill as the starting quarterback.
Brees completed a league-best 73.5 per cent of his passes for 2,196 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions prior to his injury on November 15.
In Hill’s four starts, he has completed 82 of 114 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns, while he has 211 yards and four TDs on 39 carries.
The Saints saw their nine-game winning streak snapped following last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
New Orleans allowed 400-plus yards for the first time this season and were gashed for 246 yards on the ground – the most allowed by the team in their last 96 games, per Stats Perform.
After catching exactly 81 passes in each of his first three seasons, Saints star Alvin Kamara has 77 receptions in 2020. He is looking to become the second running back in history to have 80 or more receptions in at least four straight seasons – Marshall Faulk had a five-year streak from 1998 through 2002.
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Saints (47-14) and Chiefs (46-15) have the top two regular-season records in the league. And in that span, Kansas City lead the NFL in scoring (30.1 points per game) with New Orleans ranking second (29.1).