Saints' Drew Brees: I plan and expect to start Sunday

Drew Brees missed the first meaningful game of his New Orleans tenure on Sunday with a shoulder injury, but following the Saints' 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the quarterback believes he will be able to play next weekend.

"I don't know my situation this week. I'm day to day. I plan to and expect to start on Sunday but if I don't we're in good hands with Luke (McCown)," Brees told Cox Sports Television.

It's a similar refrain we heard to start last week, before the quarterback was ruled out on Friday.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Brees is a "long shot" to play in Week 4 after suffering a rotator cuff injury.

Coach Sean Payton said Monday he is optimistic about Brees' chances of playing this week.

"The one thing is certain is the day-to-day progress he's made," Payton said, via The Times-Picayune. "For me, a week ago at this time, even Wednesday and Thursday, we didn't know. It was day-to-day, and then on Friday we felt with where it was at, at that time, it was smart to rest him. I would say optimistic, and yet we'll just pay attention to his symptoms and his strength."

Brees said after the game that his ability to play is not about pain, but "functionality."

"It's what I can do with my arm. It's not about pain. It's about strength, it's about mobility, it's about functionality," he said. "Can I make the throws that I'm required to make within this offense for us to be successful? If I am, I play. If not, then Luke plays."

After suffering the injury in Week 2, Brees could not push the ball down the field, condensing the Saints' playbook. If his arm remains in a state in which he can't make the necessary throws, he'll remain on the sideline.

McCown performed well replacing Brees on Sunday. The veteran backup used a plethora of short passes to dice up the Panthers' defense. At one point in the fourth quarter McCown had a 89.7 percent completion percentage -- he finished slightly above 81 percent. The Saints lost because their defense is terrible, not because McCown was on the field. 

The Saints face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4. While Brees might plan to start, at 0-3 New Orleans won't push the envelope with their franchise quarterback -- even if NBC executives aren't happy about a potential Luke McCown-Brandon Weeden showdown on Sunday Night Football.

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