Patrick Mahomes is clinging to hopes he can test his game against Drew Brees on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs tackle the New Orleans Saints.

Brees has returned to the Saints group after being on injured reserve with a rib problem, but there is no guarantee the 41-year-old will play any part at the weekend.

Saints coach Sean Payton was coy about his intentions for Brees, saying it was important he does not rush back the veteran quarterback while at the same time not excluding the prospect of his involvement.

Since Brees made his NFL debut in 2001, only Tom Brady has thrown more touchdown passes (644) than Brees’ haul of 599.

Mahomes is slowly climbing that list, with his 122 TD passes coming in just 49 games.

In the same period, Mahomes has the highest touchdown passing percentage (6.9 per cent) of all quarterbacks with 15 or more TD throws.

Speaking about Brees’ contribution over the past two decades, Mahomes said: “It is truly special, to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and to be able to consistently produce every single year.

“Hopefully we get to go up against him or I get to go up against him. But if not, hopefully we’ll get to face him some other time. Because you want to play against those great quarterbacks that you watch growing up, that were kind of guys that you looked up to and the way that they played the game.”

Brees, a Texas native, is a former Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP.

He has been absent for four games, with Taysom Hill stepping in, since sustaining rib fractures on each side of his chest and a collapsed right lung in the November win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Brees had completed a league-best 73.5 per cent of his passes for 2,196 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions prior to his injury, and it would likely be a stronger Saints side for his presence.

Regardless, Mahomes is eager to see the former Chargers star involved.

“Obviously, I have a ton of respect for Taysom and the way that he’s been able to play and produce,” said Mahomes in a news conference.

“I watched him when I was in college and now in the NFL, the way he’s able to go out there to throw the ball, be a quarterback, but also be one of the best athletes on the field, it’s truly special.

“But you want to go up against those great quarterbacks that have done it for a long time – another Texas guy, a guy that I’ve met a couple of times and is just a great guy.”