SEATTLE (AP) — As Drew Brees underwent surgery on his injured throwing hand Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles, his New Orleans Saints teammates went about business mostly as usual preparing for their first game without the star quarterback.
The plan remains to be a Super Bowl contender. Nothing's changed.
"We still the Saints, right? All right," linebacker Craig Robertson said.
Brees will miss several weeks while recovering from surgery to repair a ligament near his right thumb. Coach Sean Payton wouldn't discuss a timetable for Brees' return, but said it's unlikely he will be placed on injured reserve. That means doctors think Brees will be able to return this season and his teammates just need to hold it together till his return.
"I don't feel any difference," Robertson said about the team's reaction to losing Brees. "It's guys coming to work, guys taking care of business, guys look at each other like we're pros, this is what we do, this is what we get paid for. We get paid to try to win games on Sunday and that's what we're going to do."
The 40-year-old quarterback, who Robertson called "our dog," posted a photo to Instagram that showed his hand in a cast with the caption, "Step 1 complete. Successful surgery. This is my attempt to give everybody a thumbs up."
Brees has missed one start because of injury in his remarkable 13-year run with the Saints, a fact that has left fans apoplectic with worry. New Orleans is one of a handful of NFC teams favored to reach the Super Bowl, in large part because of Brees. Oddsmakers dropped the team's odds of playing in the championship after the injury.
Brees got hurt while attempting a pass in Sunday's 27-9 loss at the Los Angeles Rams. His hand collided with defensive lineman Aaron Donald's hand on his follow through, bending several fingers back.
Brees was unable to grip the ball without pain on the sideline. Backup Teddy Bridgewater finished the game for Brees.
Payton declined to name a starter for the Seahawks game and said both Bridgewater and multi-position standout Taysom Hill would play.
"I don't want to speak for everybody on the team, but I think the mindset is, man, we're going to do everything we can to win football games for that guy because he did so much for us," Hill said. "The hope is in a few weeks he can come back and we're a in a great position for him to step back in and do his thing."
Asked if he thought he would start, Bridgewater said, "Moving forward I hope so."
He then backed off a bit.
"Whoever's out there, whether it's me or Taysom, we expect to lead this team and do what's right," Bridgewater said.
The 26-year-old Bridgewater, a first-round pick out of Louisville, started 28 games for the Minnesota Vikings in 2014-15 before a catastrophic knee injury sidelined him for the better part of two seasons. The Saints acquired him from the New York Jets for a third-round draft pick last year and signed him to a one-year contract in the offseason as insurance behind Brees.
Bridgewater's presence on the roster seemed to instill a sense of calm in the locker room.
"With Teddy being at quarterback, I think he's more than capable of being able to produce on Sunday," running back Alvin Kamara said.
Hill is a third-year player out of BYU who quickly became a fan favorite because of his ability to play multiple positions on special teams and offense, including quarterback.
Kamara said he's had plenty of people point out negative things being said about the team's chances with Brees out. He's making a list.
"People who are doubting, they can keep their doubts," Kamara said. "I think I've got a pretty good memory. ... So them people that be talking all that, trust me I'll remember. So don't be saying good job when it's going good."
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