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Saints' Brees dismisses concerns about arm strength, stats

Tue Aug 20 5:40pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Mark Ingram

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, center, throws a pass over Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram, left, during a joint NFL football practice in Costa Mesa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)


NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drew Brees sees discussions about his arm strength and recently declining passing yardage as moot points.

Efficiency is what wins, the 40-year-old, record-setting Saints quarterback says - and that will be a driving factor in determining his longevity.

''I can't throw the ball 70 yards like some guys can. But last time I checked, I don't really need to throw 70 yards in order to be effective and win games. So I'm not worried about it,'' Brees told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Brees said being able to throw as deep as any NFL QB ''would be a nice luxury, but I don't need to.''

While Brees is in the last season of his contract - and said he has no plans to discuss a possible extension until after this season - he is less than a year removed from capping off possibly the most efficient campaign of his previous 18 NFL seasons.

He broke his own completion percentage rate for a single season in 2018, connecting on 74.4 percent of his passes. He also passed for 32 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions, the second best such ratio in the league.

Meanwhile, the Saints nearly went to last season's Super Bowl - and very well might have if not for league-acknowledged officiating mistakes near the end of regulation in the NFC title game. (Missed pass interference and helmet-to-helmet contact penalties committed by a Los Angeles Rams defender were seen as egregious enough to spark a rule change making such plays subject to video review ).

At the same time, Brees' 3,992 yards passing, which ranked 13th in the NFL, represented his lowest single-season passing total since he joined the Saints in 2006. Brees points out that he sat out the last game of last season, with New Orleans having already clinched the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed - meaning he likely would have wound up with more than 4,200 yards, based on his per-game average of 266 yards passing.

''That's still probably low, according to our standard,'' Brees conceded, but added, ''To me, the yardage is kind of inconsequential. It's all about the efficiency of the passing game and running game and how they complement each other.''

In addition to playing football, Brees is a father of four who gets involved in his children's activities and also has ever-growing business interests.

He owns nine Jimmy Johns sandwich shops in the New Orleans area, and spoke to AP while promoting a nationwide ''Home in the Zone'' contest that will provide money to help the winner acquire a home in one of the restaurant's delivery zones.

Brees, the all-time NFL leader in completions (6,586) and yards passing (74,437) , doesn't specify how much longer he intends to keep playing, but there is an active precedent. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is still playing at 42 and was 41 when he won last season's Super Bowl.

Brees' 520 TD passes puts him one ahead of Brady and leaves him 19 short of Peyton Manning's record of 539 - a mark Brees should break this season if he plays anywhere nearly as well as a year ago.

''I feel like I've got the right people in my corner ... so I feel like I'm getting the best information when it comes to how to prolong my career as long as possible,'' Brees said. ''Most retired players that you talk to, especially quarterbacks, I think the consensus is: Play as long as you can, enjoy it as long as you can. It's nothing earth-shattering.''

Entering this season, the departure of running back Mark Ingram during free agency and the arrival of veteran receiving tight end Jared Cook begs the question of whether there might be an uptick in passing.

Since joining the Saints, Brees has averaged nearly 303 yards passing per game and has passed for at least 5,000 yards in a season five times.

Yet three times, the Saints have missed the playoffs when Brees passed for 5,000-plus yards in a season; he had to throw more in those years (2008, `12 and `16) because the Saints were often behind. So while Brees still sees potential for big games through the air, he doesn't concern himself with whether that might happen.

''From week to week, it might be a little bit higher or lower, depending on what's needed,'' Brees said. ''Whether that's a lot of running, a lot of passing, a combination of both - I think at the end of the day, you want to be balanced. That's when you're most effective because it keeps defenses off balance, spreads the wealth, gives them a lot to worry about, gives you a lot of ways to win from week to week.''

Player Notes
Darren Waller Sep 23 1:20am ET

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who had 12 catches on a whopping 16 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown in the Monday night win over the Saints, had at least one reception from all four skill-position alignments. The breakdown was as follows: Fourteen routes at tight end (six catches, 44 yards and a TD), 12 routes from the slot (four catches, 37 yards), two routes as a wideout (one catch, 13 yards) and one route out of the backfield (one catch, nine yards). More than 52 percent of his 1,145 receiving yards in 2019 came after the catch, too. Only George Kittle had more yards after the catch. Waller has 586 receiving yards since Week 13 of last year. He's the real deal and is a must-start, high-end TE1 in fantasy. "It's been a long time since we've seen a guy like this," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "He's definitely more than a receiver playing tight end." The Pats will look to contain Waller in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Rob Gronkowski Sep 23 1:10am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he's "not really" surprised that tight end Rob Gronkowski has just four targets in the first two games of the season. His lone target in the Week 2 win over the Panthers was intercepted. "We're not throwing the ball 50 times to the tight ends. That's what we have receivers for, that's the way our offense is built. Gronk's playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I'm not concerned with his pass catches or his targets," Arians said. The 31-year-old is competing with a lot of aerial playmakers in Tampa, so he won't see close to the target share he saw in his prime with Tom Brady in New England. And as long as Gronk continues to block well, he may only get a handful of looks per game. He's become a low-end TE2 that's droppable in shallow leagues.

From RotoBaller

Dion Lewis Sep 23 12:20am ET

New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million on Tuesday, will officially sign his contract Wednesday morning and then practice with the team, and he could play as soon as this Sunday against the 49ers. Freeman reportedly turned down more money elsewhere because he like the opportunity with the Giants the most. He'll try to help replace Saquon Barkley (knee), who was lost for the year in Week 2. The 28-year-old should be a high waiver priority this week for those that lost Barkley or another running back last week, but he may be slow to get going as he learns this offense. The matchup against the Niners isn't the greatest, either. Expect to see more of Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman this week.

From RotoBaller

Blake Countess Sep 22 8:53pm ET

Free-agent DBs Blake Countess (Jets), Mark McLaurin (Giants), Obi Melifonwu (Patriots), Tyvis Powell (Broncos) and Abraham Wallace (Bills) tried out for the Indianapolis Colts Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Devonta Freeman Sep 22 8:33pm ET

Updating a previous story, free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) officially agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with the New York Giants Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Fantasy Spin: It may take Freeman a couple weeks to get fully up to speed but he should eventually control the bulk of the touches out of the Giants' backfield. His dual-threat abilities should allow him to be a FLEX option most weeks.

From TheHuddle

Trevor Siemian Sep 22 7:53pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Daren Bates, WR Cameron Batson, PK Tucker McCann and QB Trevor Siemian were designated as protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Jayrone Elliott Sep 22 7:43pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Deon Cain, LB Jayrone Elliott, DE Henry Mondeaux and RB Wendell Smallwood were named as the team's protected practice squad players for Week 3 Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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DeAndre Washington Sep 22 7:23pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DB Chris Lammons and RB DeAndre Washington were named as protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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Garrett Gilbert Sep 22 7:13pm ET

Cleveland Browns QB Garrett Gilbert, RB Dontrell Hilliard, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Greg Senat were placed on the team's Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Rashard Robinson Sep 22 7:13pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, DE Ron'Dell Carter, DB Rashard Robinson and OT Eric Smith were named to the Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Devin Smith Sep 22 7:13pm ET

Houston Texans C Greg Mancz, DB Jonathan Owens, RB C.J. Prosise and WR Devin Smith were named to the Week 3 protection list Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Edmond Robinson Sep 22 7:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons QB Kurt Benkert, P Cameron Nizialek, LB Edmond Robinson and WR Chris Rowland were named the team's protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Brandon Allen Sep 22 7:03pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals DE Freedom Akinmoladun, QB Brandon Allen, WR Stanley Morgan and G Keaton Sutherland were named as the team's protected practice squad players Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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Sep 22 6:53pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers NT Daniel McCullers terminated his practice squad contract Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Muhammad Wilkerson Sep 22 6:53pm ET

Free-agent DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Packers) had his suspension lifted by commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Paul Perkins Sep 22 6:53pm ET

Free-agent RBs Paul Perkins (Ravens), Karan Higdon (Texans) and Austin Walter (Giants) are among the running backs trying out for the San Francisco 49ers.

From TheHuddle

Jonathan Bullard Sep 22 6:53pm ET

Arizona Cardinals DE Jonathan Bullard, DE Michael Dogbe, RB Jonathan Ward and DB Jace Whittaker were protected from selection off the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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Bennie Fowler Sep 22 6:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Bennie Fowler and DT Margus Hunt were bumped from the active list to the inactive list Tuesday, Sept. 22.

From TheHuddle

Xavier Grimble Sep 22 6:33pm ET

Baltimore Ravens TE Xavier Grimble (undisclosed) was added to the practice squad's injured list Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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Sammy Watkins Sep 22 5:43pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (head) declared he is 'healthy' after taking a helmet-to-helmet shot from Denzel Perryman in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

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