Drew Brees told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder that he believes his passing shoulder is healthy and he is capable of making every throw necessary when the New Orleans Saints host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
Brees is planning to start Sunday after taking most of the Saints' practice reps all week. He has been recovering from a bruised right rotator cuff, which forced him to miss Sunday's game at Carolina -- the first time he has missed a game with injury since high school.
Brees went into detail on the specifics of his injury for the first time in a phone interview with Werder. He said the turning point in his recovery was Tuesday, when the inflammation subsided and the strength began to return to normal. He doesn't feel as though the shoulder is at any risk.
Brees said he injured two muscles in his rotator cuff and another in the shoulder capsule against Tampa Bay in Week 2. He underwent an MRI after that game, which revealed the injuries. And he went to Dr. James Andrews' facility in Birmingham, Alabama, on Monday for a full evaluation and an intense rehab session with physical therapist Kevin Wilk, who has worked with Brees for the past decade.
"Basically what the doctor told me was the cuff muscles at times will just shut down if they're inflamed," Brees said. "They're basically telling the body, 'I'm injured. I need time to heal, I'm not going to work until the inflammation goes away.' It wasn't a pain thing. I mean, it hurt, but that wasn't the issue. It was just functionality. I did strength exercises all last week. The tough part was with the balance between resting it, getting the inflammation out of it and, at the same time, strengthening it."
Brees said he has maintained an exercise program for his shoulder since Andrews performed major reconstructive surgery on the quarterback after the 2005 season, when he suffered a dislocation in his final game with the San Diego Chargers. He said he will incorporate some of the new exercises he was provided in last week's visit with Andrews into his ongoing regimen with the hope he can improve his shoulder beyond its status before the most recent injury.
Brees was listed as probable on Friday.
"I think he's planning on [starting], and I think we're planning on starting him based on the workweek and the reps," coach Sean Payton said after Friday's practice. "He's thrown well. I thought he looked sharp today."
Asked whether there is anything that could get in the way of Brees' starting, Payton said, "No, just like I said, he's taking the reps, he looks good.
"Based on the way the week unfolded, each day I felt like he has made the progress we were looking for. Deep balls and all that stuff. So it was good"
Not only is Brees expected back, but defenders Jairus Byrd, Keenan Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe could also all make their 2015 debuts Sunday. Only guard Jahri Evans was ruled out for the second straight week with a knee injury, while the rest of the team was listed no worse than probable.
The Saints hope their improved health can provide a much-needed boost to a team that has started 0-3 this season and has lost six straight games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Information from ESPN's Ed Werder was used in this report.