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Sean Payton on Drew Brees: 'He's as courageous and as tough a player as I've ever been around'

We knew Drew Brees battled 11 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, but it turns out the future Hall of Fame QB also was fighting more than that.

In an Instagram post earlier this week, Brees' wife, Brittany, revealed that the 42-year-old was also playing through a torn rotator cuff and a torn fascia in his foot.

On Thursday, Saints coach Sean Payton admired what Brees went through just to get on the field this season.

"He's as courageous and as tough a player as I've ever been around," Payton said, via The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Most players play injured, particularly down the stretch of a season. It's part of the accepted byproduct of playing a brutal game. Brees' injury descriptions, however, takes playing through pain to another level.

The injuries could help explain the QB's struggles pushing the ball down the field. It's impossible to know whether his multitude of injuries or facts of life playing the position at 40-plus years old were the biggest reason for his issues, which ended in a three-INT game in Sunday's playoff loss to Tampa Bay.

Brees is widely expected to retire but has yet to announce his intentions, saying after the Divisional Round loss, he'd take time to evaluate his decision. The effort it takes to play through injuries, and more difficult recovery at his age will undoubtedly be part of the decision.

If it is the end, Payton is prepared to march forward without the warrior who has fought through injury after injury during his 15 seasons in New Orleans.

"We knew there was a chance at some point in time where we'll be dealing with a transition," Payton said. "We're going to try to be as prepared as we can when that time comes."

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