The New Orleans Saints have done more than fine without Drew Brees, winning all five games that Teddy Bridgewater has started at quarterback since the 12-time Pro Bowler underwent thumb surgery.
So the Saints (6-1) are in good shape regardless of whether Brees returns for a home game against the Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) on Sunday.
Brees is listed as questionable but coach Sean Payton didn’t declare a starter after Friday’s practice and said he would “probably wait until Sunday.”
“Both (quarterbacks) got a lot of work this week,” Payton told reporters before mentioning Brees was a limited participant. “He looked good. ... But we’ll have a good plan.”
Brees returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and is hoping to play for the first time since a 27-9 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.
“That’s the plan,” Brees said.
Brees said the only way he wouldn’t start Sunday would be if during the course of the week the ball isn’t coming out of his hand accurately or if he isn’t “confident or comfortable.” Payton was less definitive, and is willing to wait until game day if necessary.
If any developments lead to Brees not playing, he would have two more weeks to recover before the next game — at home against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 10 — because New Orleans has its bye next week.
“Drew is one of the best (to) ever play, and we understand that, but when you watch the film this year, Teddy’s playing at an incredible level and Coach Payton has such great offensive creativity, finds great matchups, and they’re rolling right along,” Cardinals first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We know whichever guy it is, we’re going to have our hands full as a defense.
“I think that’s a testament once again to that coaching staff, that organization, that you can have your backup quarterback come in and still play at such an incredible level.”
Bridgewater said he’s “focused on the process” because “the process has been working for us.”
The Saints hope to have leading rusher Alvin Kamara (ankle, knee) back on the field after he missed a 36-25 victory at Chicago last week. He is listed as questionable.
Starting tight end Jared Cook (ankle) was ruled out on Friday. Receiver Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and cornerback Patrick Robinson (hamstring) will also miss the contest. Safety J.T. Gray (ankle) is questionable.
Latavius Murray replaced Kamara against the Bears and finished with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
The Saints’ defense has held each of the past four opponents to fewer than 260 yards.
As for the Cardinals, they have won three games in a row, and they too overcame the absence of a key offensive player in their last game. Former All-Pro running back David Johnson started against the Giants but barely played due to ankle and back injuries.
His replacement, Chase Edmonds, had career highs of 27 carries, 126 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-21 victory. His scoring runs covered 20, 20 and 22 yards.
Edmonds could be the key to the running game this week because Johnson didn’t practice all week and is listed as questionable. Edmonds’ success eased the pressure on rookie quarterback Kyler Murray.
“We were excited for Chase to get that opportunity and play at such a high level,” Kingsbury said. “He has worked really hard the last two years to change his body and become an every-down back in this league.
“I think you saw the versatility, you saw what he can do in that role. We were all just proud of his effort. For him to have his opportunity and to take advantage of it like that meant a lot to all of us.”
The Arizona defense — bolstered by the return of star cornerback Patrick Peterson from suspension — contributed significantly last week also, getting eight sacks and three takeaways.
—Field Level Media