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Drew Brees (rotator cuff) likely to miss games

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The depressing start to the New Orleans Saints season just got a lot worse.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Saints believe quarterback Drew Brees has an injury to his rotator cuff, causing him weakness, pain and discomfort, that likely will cause him to miss games, according to sources with knowledge of the injury. Brees could potentially miss several games, underwent an MRI on Monday and is scheduled to undergo more tests to determine the injury on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Rapoport.

Rapoport added that his tests will be sent to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. The belief is there isn't much structural damage, but they are waiting until Andrews to make a final call.

The news explains why some of Brees' deep throws in a 26-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday looked so poor. Brees took a hit to the shoulder in the second quarter, and didn't have the same arm strength for the rest of the game. He had no juice on his vertical throws.

This is undeniably a dark moment for this Saints franchise. The team's home loss to the Buccaneers was humbling, but not a fluke. Tampa looked like the tougher team up front on both sides of the ball. Their upcoming game in Carolina was shaping up as a huge early season moment for New Orleans. The Saints are staring at an 0-3 record unless backup quarterback Luke McCown can somehow improve a sputtering offense. Third round pick Garrett Grayson is not expected to be ready to play anytime soon, Rapoport reported on NFL Network. 

Brees, often a beacon of positivity even when the Saints struggle, was unusually downcast after the game.

"It was if an impostor drone had been sent to the podium as Brees' proxy," longtime New Orleans Picayune writer Jeff Duncan wrote about Brees.

Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters Monday that it was too "early" to tell whether the team might consider sitting Brees down to let him heal.

Brees, Payton and the city of New Orleans have to be feeling sick. They have an offensive line that can't open holes in the running game, and got Brees hit often against a lackluster Tampa pass rush. The Saints' secondary is wildly banged up, and the team doesn't have a natural pass rusher.

The Saints are an organization centered around an offense orchestrated by Brees. They were counting on Brees to carry the team while the talent-poor defense rounded into shape.

Brees has not missed a game to injury since signing with the Saints before the 2006 season. He was coming off shoulder surgery then. Now 36, it's worth wondering how this potential shoulder injury will affect Brees moving forward.

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