New Orleans Saints future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees continues to make a steady recovery from recent thumb surgery and there is a realistic chance he could play by Week 8 against Arizona, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Brees is in close contact with a hand specialist as he works to get back to full strength and has impressed the Saints with the strides he has made thus far. His initial timeframe from his surgery puts a return in two weeks not out of the question and there has been nothing in the process so far to have altered that schedule. If Brees can practice fully that week and show an ability to play fully and normally, then a return against the Cardinals is quite possible, I'm told. Otherwise he will be back after New Orleans spends Week 9 on the bye.

The Saints want to be sure that the area around the thumb is at no risk of further injury and that Brees has a strong grip on the ball. With Teddy Bridgewater shining in a starting rule, there is no need to rush Brees back, but if he gets full medical clearance and is healed there is no reason to hold him out additionally, either.

When Brees returns the impact cannot be understated. The veteran will be fresh for the second half of the season and his return also gives head coach Sean Payton, in effect, multiple roster spots. Currently, with jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill as the primary backup to Bridgewater, the Saints must be careful with Hill's workload, particularly on special teams, where he is a standout. If Hill were to get hurt then running back Alvin Kamara becomes the No. 2 quarterback – a scenario the Saints would obviously like to avoid.

With Brees back and Bridgewater behind him, even more well-versed in this offense and system after running it for over a month, Hill's usage can go back to normal where he is difficult match-up at receiver or running the ball in a hybrid role. Brees could benefit from some new pieces by the time he returns. The Saints are exploring potential trades for tight ends and/or receivers, league sources said, to try to buttress a Super Bowl push with Brees nearing the end of his career (the team is looking at corners as well).