Drew Brees off to hot start in return from thumb surgery

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton left open the door on Friday for Teddy Bridgewater to make one more start before Drew Brees returned to the starting lineup, but Brees was back on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

And if Brees was affected by missing five games and playing with his right thumb still wrapped, it certainly hasn’t looked like it in the first half.

The 40-year-old was 13-for-16 for 123 yards after the Saints’ first touchdown, an 8-yard run by Latavius Murray.

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The touchdown put New Orleans up 10-3 over Arizona.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, with a wrap on his surgically-repaired right thumb, returned to the starting lineup on Sunday. (AP/Bill Feig)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, with a wrap on his surgically-repaired right thumb, returned to the starting lineup on Sunday. (AP/Bill Feig)

Brees has already completed passes to six receivers, including four each to Murray, who has been getting more playing time with Alvin Kamara sidelined, and Michael Thomas.

And he didn’t slow down: New Orleans pulled away from Arizona in the second half, winning 31-9 to record their sixth straight win.

Brees finished the afternoon 34-of-43 (79.1 percent) for 373 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.

“Felt really good,” Brees said. “Obviously the last five weeks have been tough, just rehabbing, just trying to get healthy again. Early on, I felt like there was a lot of excitement, shaking the rust off a little bit. ...I was hoping this would be the week; this was the week that I had in my mind from the moment that I got hurt.

“The doctors and everybody were saying after the bye week, but I was trying to fast-track that as much as possible, understanding that there’s a healing process that needs to take place. A lot of it was just the ability to get a grip on the ball and be able to throw the ball accurately and be myself and not think about it. So as soon as I could grip it and rip it, I wanted to play. I wanted to be out there with my teammates.”

Per usual, Thomas was his favorite target, as the receiver had 11 catches for 112 yards and a score. Thomas was one of nine Saints who caught at least one pass; gadget player Taysom Hill had three catches for 63 yards and a receiving touchdown and Murray finished with 157 yards from scrimmage and two total touchdowns.

New Orleans is 7-1 and will now enjoy its bye week.

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