METAIRIE, La. – The second opinions obtained from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees confirmed the original diagnosis of a collapsed lung and a total of five broken ribs on either side of his body, a source said on Wednesday, ESPN’s Ed Werder.
Doctors have yet to set a timeframe for Brees to return, according to the source, and Saints manager Sean Payton declined to offer updates to the quarterback position on Wednesday morning.
“No update,” Payton said on his conference call with the media before joking, “I’m eating a bagel. I was hoping to chew it when you asked.”
Payton told reporters Monday that it wouldn’t do the Saints any good to announce their starting quarterback earlier in the week – though he suggested on his weekly WWL radio show on Monday night that both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill would be part of the plan if Brees would not be available.
Winston played most of the second half in New Orleans’ 27-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers after Brees was injured on Sunday. But Hill, who occasionally serves as the Saints run heavy quarterback even when Brees is healthy, played seven snaps at QB in the second half.
“These two young people have made progress and have progressed. They understand what we are doing and we have a degree of confidence in both players,” Payton said on Wednesday morning of Winston and Hill. “They’re different types of players. But I think it’s a strong room and we’re going to be leaning heavily on some of these other guys now.”
The Saints have not made any official statements regarding Brees’ status for Sunday’s upcoming home game at the Atlanta Falcons. And they haven’t decided yet to put him on an injured reserve – which would require him to miss at least three games.
He attended Wednesday’s practice session and watched a ball cap from the sideline during the early part, which was open to the media.
Brees shared a picture of himself Monday night inhaling into a spirometer, usually used for the benefit of the lungs. Brees was surrounded by his children in the picture. The headline read: “I have the best medical team in the world … will be back in no time!”
Remarkably, Brees stayed in the game for the last eight minutes of the first half Sunday after scoring a big hit from 49ers defensive tackle against Kentavius Street – he finished one touchdown drive and then completed five passes on another TD drive. However, he could not continue in the second half.
A source told Werder that Brees broke two ribs on his right side in the first half of the 49ers game – and that doctors believe those fractures could have pierced his lungs and caused a pneumothorax. Doctors also discovered three broken ribs on Brees’ left side that are believed to have occurred in a 38-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a week earlier.
The fractures on the left did not show up as such on the X-ray taken at the time, possibly due to inflammation, a source told Werder. Brees has also dealt with an injury to his right throwing shoulder for the past two weeks, which has limited him in practice.
Brees sent his x-rays, CT images and reports to other doctors to confirm the original diagnosis, a source told Werder.
The 41-year-old Brees has only missed six games due to an injury in his 20-year NFL career. Five of them came last season because of a torn thumb ligament. The Saints took a 5-0 lead during this stretch, with Teddy Bridgewater replacing Brees as the starter.