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Sean Payton: Drew Brees will throw prior to Sunday

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Drew Brees is "pretty confident" he'll play Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers. That conviction has Sean Payton flowing with optimism.

During a conference call on Thursday with Charlotte media, Payton said there is a good chance Brees plays, based off the quarterback's comments and how he felt, via the Times-Picayune's Katherine Terrell. The 36-year-old quarterback suffered a rotator cuff injury last week and was limited in practice Thursday.

"I think it was just overall echoing, kind of his mood and the way I see his responses. We have conversations, it'd be very normal for us to discuss hey how you feeling, where you think you're at?" Payton said. "But it wasn't based off of I just saw him throw 15 go-routes or anything like that ... just kind of where I thought he was at Wednesday.

"He felt pretty good. I think it's not gonna reveal itself right away because we're keeping it from happening, it's really more of us paying attention ... in other words, how does he feel today and just monitoring it. It may be a little later in the week before we know for sure."

Of course, the oozing of optimism could simply be Payton and the Saints leading the outside world on in an effort to the Panthers to prepare for all situations. (The coach implemented that strategy in the past with Jimmy Graham injuries.)

What we are certain of is that Brees will test out his arm prior to Sunday's contest to determine if, or at what level, he's able to pass. Brees didn't throw in Wednesday's session.

"He wouldn't go all the way until Sunday and then pregame is his first throws," Payton said. "In other words, he would throw at some point. We'll see where he throws. It's a process that really starts with warming up and testing it out how it feels. We'll see where it's at."

If the optimism turns to pessimism and Brees sits, Luke McCown will get the start. McCown has thrown one NFL pass since 2012.

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