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New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees has fractured ribs, collapsed lung, source says

The results of medical evaluations performed Monday on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees revealed that he has multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest and a collapsed lung on the right side, according to a source.

Brees is uncertain how much time he might be forced to miss before returning to start for the Saints, the source said.

Brees is suffering from three fractured ribs on his left side and two on the right, possibly more, according to the source. Doctors have cautioned Brees to be especially careful with the damage to his lung.

The two broken ribs on his right side occurred in the first half of the Saints’ triumph over the San Francisco 49ers, a game that backup Jameis Winston finished after Brees determined he could not play the second half because he was having difficulty breathing.

The three fractured ribs on the left side are believed to have occurred in the game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. They did not show up as such on the X-ray performed at the time, possibly because of inflammation, but they were clearly seen on the CAT scan performed Monday.

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Doctors performing the evaluation believe the right-side fractures might have punctured the quarterback’s lung Sunday, creating a pneumothorax. That is what caused Brees’ difficulty breathing in the game and resulted in him informing head coach Sean Payton that he could not play the second half versus the 49ers.

The most optimistic timetable for a return is two to three weeks, but the people involved are prepared for it to be longer, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. It will depend on how long Brees’ injuries take to heal, which varies from patient to patient, and when the Saints are convinced he is able to take a hit without risk of serious re-injury.

There is hope that he will return in time for the playoffs.

The Saints listed Brees on their injury report last week with a shoulder injury, and that was causing enough pain that Brees was apparently unaware of the rib injury he had suffered against the Bucs. That was believed to have happened in the second quarter.

Payton on Monday declined to offer any updates on Brees’ injury status or who might replace him at quarterback if he misses time.

“Wednesday is our first day that we’re required to (report injuries). And to be fair to the process, let’s stick with that,” said Payton, who said he wouldn’t announce the starting quarterback until late in the week.

“None of it benefits us by announcing that player earlier than later,” Payton said. “I wouldn’t project or answer that in any way. We’ll see how this week unfolds.”

However, it would stand to reason that the Saints would stick with Winston in the short term, since he was the one who filled in for Brees on Sunday — and since the Saints went with Teddy Bridgewater as their replacement during Brees’ five-game absence last year.

Although the Saints do consider Taysom Hill as a potential long-term option at quarterback, they would have to change their offense more significantly to suit his unique skill set as a runner/passer. And they like to use him as a playmaker in their offense at QB/RB/WR/TE/FB.

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New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees held back in practice for second straight day

Although Drew Brees downplayed the significance of his shoulder injury Wednesday, he remained limited in Thursday’s practice.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback was working off to the side with no pads during the early portion of practice that was open to the media and was formally listed as a limited participant.

It is rare for Brees to be limited in practice this late in the week and unclear if that will affect his status for Sunday night’s critical NFC South showdown at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It is also unclear who would replace Brees in the starting lineup if necessary, with former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill both potential aspirants.

Friday’s practice should shed more light on Brees’ status.

Brees appeared on the Saints’ injury report as limited in Wednesday’s practice, but he downplayed that by pointing out that he is always limited on Wednesdays. Brees, 41, hasn’t thrown during Wednesday practices for the past several years to give him more rest and recovery after games.

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However, the shoulder injury appears to be a new ailment since Brees was spotted wearing Kinesio tape on his right throwing shoulder during New Orleans’ 26-23 overtime win at Chicago in Week 8.

Asked about the tape Wednesday, Brees laughed and said, “I’m 41 years old. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. But I just keep ticking.”

Brees leads the NFL with a completion percentage of 73.1%. Since Week 3, he has the third-highest passer rating (111.2), behind only Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

On the plus side for New Orleans, running back Alvin Kamara returned to practice Thursday after being limited by a foot injury that he described as minor on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle/hamstring) continued to practice Thursday as he appears close to returning to the lineup for the first time since Week 1. And wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders stated he is definitely playing after being activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.

Kamara was listed as a full participant in practice, while Thomas was a limited participant.

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