Drew Brees able to throw NFL-sized balls during rehab

Drew Brees continues to make progress toward a return from a thumb injury that knocked the signal-caller out the past four starts.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback took a baby step recently, going from tossing Nerf footballs to the real-sized pigskin.

"I've graduated to the NFL ball," Brees told WWL Radio on Wednesday. "I have a really kind of disciplined plan for what I need to do for strength and flexibility and then my throwing and all that stuff. So really starting to get back into it, doing football stuff, and just trying to get back as quick as I can."

Throwing an NFL-sized ball is a small but needed step as Brees re-strengthens his injured thumb that required surgery.

The 40-year-old has been intent on besting his original timetable, but with the Saints going 4-0 sans the future Hall of Fame QB, the team might not allow him to return until after the Week 9 bye.

When he does come back, Brees noted that he'd be forced to wear a splint on the surgically repaired thumb.

"That's doctor's orders," Brees told WWL. "The splint just basically goes on the outside of the thumb. I'm gonna have to tape it on there. It protects the joint to a degree because it does take a while for that ligament to actually heal. So basically while it's healing, it has that internal brace which was sewed... back into my thumb along with the ligament. And then I've got this splint that sits on the outside of my thumb that I have to tape on that's supposed to provide a little bit of protection as well."

Getting used to throwing with the splint will be another hurdle for Brees to get comfortable with during his rehab.

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