Brees back with Saints after attending mother's funeral
HOUSTON (AP) - New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was ready to focus on football Thursday as he returned to practice for the first time since his mother's funeral.
Brees, who last practiced on Sunday, was back on the field as the Saints wrapped up their joint practice with the Texans.
Mina Brees, an attorney in Austin, died Aug. 7 in Colorado. There was a public memorial service on Monday and the family gathered for a private ceremony Wednesday.
He said time has helped him deal with his mother's death and that he can focus on his work now.
"When my mom first passed away, it was just such a shock," he said. "And now that it's been almost two weeks, and we've already had the memorial services, so to have those and feel like there's some sense of closure, that makes it (where) I'm able to compartmentalize that enough and try to think about football."
Brees said it took a few snaps to get back into rhythm, but he'll definitely be ready to start Saturday when New Orleans plays Houston.
"It was great to have him back," coach Sean Payton said. "He means a lot, obviously he's one of the leaders of this team and a lot functions around him offensively, so I think it was significant."
Brees said this difficult time was made easier by the support of his team. Saints owner Tom Benson let a group of players and coaches use his private jet to attend Monday's service.
"It was just - it was awesome," Brees said. "They walked in and it brought a tear to my eye because I know how much they mean to me, just the fact that they were there to support me and my family was great."
Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, along with players Reggie Bush, Will Smith, Charles Grant, Jon Stinchcomb, Scott Fujita and Billy Miller, made the trip.
Brees returned to a wild practice, with several fights cropping up during the more than hourlong workout. Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey got into it and Texans fullback Vonta Leach scuffled with defensive tackle Rod Coleman after he thought he hit Houston's Ryan Moats too hard.
"When you practice against somebody like we have for the second day now and it's hot, tempers get flared up a little bit," Payton said. "It happened twice on both fields and both teams handled it well and got back to playing."
Leach wasn't as diplomatic.
"It doesn't matter who we are or where we are, what field we're on, who we're playing, nobody's going to take a shot at our running back," Leach said. "It was a cheap shot. Our guy came off the blocks and they started swinging. They tried to push us around and our team's not going to be pushed around."
Both teams had some injury news Thursday. Payton said that left tackle Jammal Brown was undergoing tests in Philadelphia to determine why he's having pain in his upper groin. He didn't have the results of the tests by Thursday afternoon, but said he expects Brown to miss Saturday's game.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said linebacker Cato June has a broken arm and was scheduled to have surgery Thursday afternoon to repair it. Kubiak said he expects June to be out 6-8 weeks.
Tuesday, May 23 2017 5:55 PM EDT2017-05-23 21:55:13 GMT
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