Saints quarterback Drew Brees admitted Wednesday afternoon that some teammates have considered him the football version of a goody two-shoes.
For Brees’ sunny optimism rarely falters — even after a mistake in front of tens of thousands, with millions watching on televisions across the nation and others following online.
He’s never pessimistic about his next pass.
It explains how Brees recovers from moments like he had during last Sunday’s 27-24 overtime loss to San Francisco. And it explains his teammates’ teases.
“I am annoyingly optimistic and confident as I’ve been told by teammates,” Brees said, smiling.
While Brees threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns against San Francisco, he also posted two interceptions and in overtime, held on to the football too long on a second-down play, leading to a sack from behind. He fumbled, the 49ers recovered and quickly kicked a game-winning field goal.
Brees, though, enters Sunday’s game against Cincinnati (5-3-1) with a blank emotional slate.
This season, Brees has endured more questions about his game than usual, with Saints fans and the media alike pondering whether his age (35), years in the league (14) or some other reason is behind his sometimes-sloppy play. While Brees (2,816 yards) is on pace to finish with more than 5,000 yard for an NFL-record fourth season, his mistakes are up — he threw 12 interceptions in 2013, yet this season he has 10 through nine games.
He’s made his share of bad throws this season — like the one to tight end Jimmy Graham in triple-coverage near the end of the first half against the 49ers which resulted in an interception.
He’s also made his share of special throws, like the 11-yard TD pass to Graham late in the third quarter.
“It wasn’t until I saw the film where he’s got to escape one, slip another and throw Jimmy a touchdown pass,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Shoot, each week they’re plays that come up and you just shake your head.”
The Bengals hope quarterback Andy Dalton can follow Brees’ example. For Dalton, now in his fourth season, is coming off one of the worst outings by an NFL quarterback in decades.
Last Thursday, Dalton completed 10 of 33 passes for 86 yards and three INTs. He was sacked twice. Cleveland won, 24-3. Dalton now has more interceptions (nine) this season than he does TDs (eight).
Last season, Dalton completed 61.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 4,293 yards with 33 TDs and 20 INTs.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis’ knee injury against the 49ers limited his play — although he did return to perform in heroic fashion.
Still, Lewis was not fully healthy, allowing rookie free agent Brian Dixon action in the Saints’ secondary.
“I was ready for it,” Dixon said. “That’s why I take my practice reps seriously because you never know when it’s your turn to come up and help the team out.”
Dixon finished with 12 defensive snaps.
“Replacing Keenan Lewis is very hard to do,” Dixon said. “I just did what I could.”
On Wednesday, the Saints tried to recover from a rash stretch of injuries with a number of roster moves.
Rookie safety Vinnie Sunseri, who played special teams while seeing action later this season in the secondary, fractured his arm during Sunday’s game, and has been placed on injured reserve.
The Saints then signed veteran safety Jamarca Sanford.
With three running backs injured, the Saints signed Brian Leonard to the active roster. Also, receiver Joseph Morgan was reinstated by the team, but Payton continued to offer no details about Morgan’s suspension.
The Saints waived reserve guard center Eric Olsen and rookie linebacker Todd Davis.
Running backs Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder), Khiry Robinson (arm) and Edwin Baker (concussion) missed practice, along with receiver Robert Meachem (ankle), Lewis (knee), linebacker Curtis Lofton (ankle) and punter Thomas Morstead (illness).
Running back Mark Ingram (shoulder) and middle linebacker David Hawthorne (hand) were limited.
For Cincinnati, running back Giovani Bernard (hip/clavicle), linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee), tight end Jermaine Gresham (thigh), safety Taylor Mays (foot), offensive lineman Mike Pollak (knee) and defensive back Terence Newman (knee) missed practice. Linebacker Rey Maualuga (hamstring), running back Cedric Peerman (knee) and offensive tackle Andre Smith (ankle) were limited.