The Saints got some good news on Wednesday, with Sean Payton telling reporters the team did not plan on putting the future Hall of Fame quarterback on injured reserve. The initial time table for Brees' return from a hand injury that required surgery this week was expected to be six weeks -- putting Brees on IR would mean him missing at least eight weeks.
So there's some optimism in New Orleans. However, it's not as cut and dry as Brees simply having surgery on his throwing hand, waiting for six weeks and coming back, as Brady Quinn explained on the Pick Six Podcast Wednesday. (FYI: You can not only read what Brady has to say, but you can listen to it in the podcast player below and subscribe to our NFL podcast for great football talk every single day of the week AND if you scroll down you can WATCH Brady talk about it via the magic of YouTube.)
Quinn, who is a former NFL quarterback, also battled hand injuries during the course of his career, and explained how it's not just the recovery that factors into the timeframe in play but also the building back of strength for the quarterback.
"People keep talking about this injury to Drew Brees being six weeks. I think it's a minimum of six weeks. It could be a lot longer than that. People don't realize, when you have surgery on your throwing hand, and you've got to get all that feeling back and the strength ... and I know it's small and people think you can just pick up a football, it doesn't really work like that," Brady explained. "So minimum six weeks and maybe longer. I had two pins put into my right index finger -- I actually smacked it off Marcus Stroud's helmet on Monday Night Football game back in 2008 -- didn't realize I had broken the bone at the top of the finger and then ripped off all the tendons in the top part until Wednesday of that following week. And then at that point I tried to play the next week versus Houston and couldn't really control, it couldn't really throw the football and had to get the pins inserted.
"They were in there for six weeks. Once they were taken out, then it took a period of time thereafter where I was still gaining back strength and dexterity. And I still don't really have much feeling on the end of my finger just from inserting those pins in there."
"So, it's something that, it's not going to be that easy to come back from."
My theory after reading about the medical situation behind Brees' injury was that not only would it keep him off the field for multiple weeks, but that it would also impact his accuracy and ability to hold/grip the football (which could greatly impact the turnover potential with fumbles) when he steps back into the lineup.
Brady confirmed as much.
"Yeah it takes time. Six weeks is the earlier thing they're saying. You still need time to throw the football and get adjusted to the new normal. My hand never felt the same after that because of the way the ball came off my finger. Because you couldn't feel it quite the same," Quinn explained. "And people are like 'Well it's your right index finger, what does it matter?' You're like, well, when it's your thumb and your right index finger, if you're a right-handed throwing quarterback, it's the most important part of your grip on the football. Your thumb's going to help with guiding the football. And your index finger, as it rolls off and you're pronating your wrist, it's the last thing that touches. You literally push off it with the tip of your finger. So when you hurt either one of those two, you obviously impact not only your ability to grip but your ability to stabilize the football and control it when you're throwing it and as you release the power through your index finger.
"So that's really more of a concern moving forward, is either how long it's going to take him to get adjusted to the new normal of how this throwing hand and thumb feels and just getting back that strength and being as accurate as he's accustomed to."
Check out the video above to see Brady use his actual hands -- moving pictures, everyone! -- to display the issues that Brees will face. It's not as simple as the Saints quarterback having surgery and just grabbing a football and diving headfirst back into being the starting quarterback.
He could certainly suffer a setback, but he could also find himself struggling to adjust to the different feeling in his hand once he returns from this surgery.
The Saints signed Teddy Bridgewater and have groomed Taysom Hill so they wouldn't be in trouble if Brees missed time. They're in a good spot right now, even with Brees likely missing upwards of two months.
Or more, depending on how he adjusts after surgery ends.