Saints don’t name QB starter; no IR for Brees

SEATTLE — Sean Payton declined to name a starter for the New Orleans Saints‘ first game without Drew Brees on Sunday at Seattle, saying, “We’ll approach this game with two quarterbacks” in veteran Teddy Bridgewater and dual-threat athlete Taysom Hill.

Payton confirmed that Brees will have surgery on his right throwing thumb on Wednesday. And though Payton refused to speculate on a timetable for Brees’ recovery, he did say that the Saints are not planning to place Brees on injured reserve — which would require him to miss eight weeks.

In the meantime, Payton believes the Saints could gain a tactical advantage by forcing the Seahawks to prepare for two quarterbacks with different styles.

Payton continued to staunchly defend Bridgewater on Wednesday, pointing out that the offensive line play and penalties were the biggest culprits for New Orleans’ lack of success this past Sunday in a 27-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams after Brees left in the first quarter.

But he also indicated that Hill will be part of the game plan after he was used often in read-option packages last season.

“We’ll have the right plan relative to what those guys are doing,” said Payton, who acknowledged the Saints will have to monitor how much they are doing with Hill — who has also been a core special-teams player over the past two years.

“Look, these guys have been here now two seasons,” Payton said. “It’s just kind of taking a step back and looking at the things we want to do with those guys in the game and putting that plan in place this week in practice.”

Bridgewater, a 2014 first-round draft pick who led the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs in 2015 before a devastating knee injury in the summer of 2016, is the highest-paid backup QB in the NFL. The Saints traded a third-round draft pick to acquire him from the New York Jets last summer. Then they re-signed him to a one-year deal worth $7.25 million plus incentives in free agency.

He was also ineffective in Week 17 last year when the Saints rested several starters — but Payton said that wasn’t a fair evaluation for him playing behind a patchwork offensive line.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what he does well,” Payton said. “All the snaps in practice, all the things that we’ve done. If you watch the tape closely from last week, you see there’s some tough situations that I think would have been difficult for any one of our guys playing. So he’ll be ready to go. He’s a guy that’s won before. And the most important thing is all the other pieces around him.

“We’re looking at a player that we valued coming out. We’re looking at a player that played well in Minnesota. A guy that players respect. A guy that’s got good arm strength to get the ball downfield and has got the traits you’re looking for at that position.”

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