ARIZONA CARDINALS

Saints QB Brees practices, coach Payton talks Kingsbury impressions

Oct 23, 2019, 1:00 PM | Updated: Oct 24, 2019, 11:25 am

Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints speaks with Drew Brees #9 prior to a game against ...

Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints speaks with Drew Brees #9 prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 5, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said quarterback Drew Brees practiced on Wednesday and will step in for backup Teddy Bridgewater as soon as the team determines Brees is capable of playing through a thumb injury.

Whether that’s this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals remains to be determined.

“Today, it was good to have him out there throwing,” Payton said on a conference call. “He’s done a great job with his rehab, of course. There’s no real new news other than he’s doing well and he was able to practice.

“It’s on your throwing hand and your thumb is almost 50% of that. We’ll assess it day-by-day here … we might have to wait until Sunday to see if he’s playing or not.”

Brees was a bit more definitive in his expectations for playing against Arizona.

Payton added that strong play from Bridgewater and an upcoming bye next week won’t impact how the team handles their quarterback, who was injured in the second game of the season.

New Orleans won’t rest Brees to be safe. If he can go, he’ll go.

“When he’s healthy … and ready to go, he’ll be starting and playing. Teddy’s done a real good job,” Payton said.

Brees is 35 of 48 (73%) in just over one game this year with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was injured early on in a Week 2 game on Sept. 15.

Since, Bridgewater has completed 68% of his passes for 1,370 yards, nine touchdowns and two picks.

Payton addresses coaching hire diversity

This offseason, Payton made headlines for criticizing the wave of head coaching searches in the NFL that lacked diversity.

While he discussed race, he also questioned why teams were limiting themselves to quarterback specialists in the mold of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay.

“The thing that is — it’s not frustrating — the thing that can be disappointing though is when you talk to someone and they give you the profile,” Payton told NFL Network. “And then I’ll say, ‘Well, you’re not interested in say a young Bill Belichick or a young Tony Dungy?’ They get so pigeonholed, because this is cyclical, right?

“I think we’ve got a diversity problem. This season, what took place, that’s hitting us square in the face, and I think that not a lot was written or discussed about it.”

Payton added in the interview that he was “excited to play those teams” that had already hired offensive gurus.

Of course, that seemed to include the Cardinals and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who had no NFL coaching experience and a 35-40 record leading Texas Tech.

The Saints head coach addressed his March comments again on Wednesday.

“Look, the one thing unique, I think, in a good way with our league is each team, ownership and organization, is different. There’s personalities relative to how they operate and how they conduct business,” he said. “I think the big point I was making relative to the hiring process is everyone is looking for the right type of leadership and that can come in a lot of different areas.”

Payton complimented how the Cardinals had been rallied by their head coach.

“The last three weeks they’ve been fantastic securing the football, they’ve been rushing the ball … It’s been impressive to see the formula has been the same as us a little bit relative to our winning,” Payton said.

Kingsbury said earlier in the week that he has long admired the Saints head coach and his offensive mind.

“He’s one of the guys that I’ve watched probably the most throughout my coaching career,” Kingsbury said Monday. “He does such a phenomenal job of getting people open and finding matchups and adapting to his personnel. The consistent success he’s had throughout the league is phenomenal, so I’m a huge fan of his.”

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