A season that arguably has forced quarterback Drew Brees to battle through more adversity than any other in his Saints career reportedly has dealt the face of the franchise another debilitating blow.
Brees, who suffered an injury to his right foot on a second-quarter incompletion in Monday night’s 35-27 loss to the Detroit Lions, had an MRI on Tuesday. The MRI revealed Brees has a torn plantar fascia, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported.
Brees, who played through the injury in the rest of Monday night’s game, hopes to play in the Saints’ final two games, and he sent the MRI to Dr. Robert Anderson, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based foot and ankle specialist who has been treating Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for the same injury, according to ESPN.
“I don’t know exactly what we have going on here,” Brees said after Monday night’s loss. “We will see after the MRI (Tuesday).”
The Saints declined to comment on ESPN’s report Tuesday. Brees is day-to-day while he waits on Anderson to weigh in on the injury, Werder reported.
Incredibly durable in his decade with the Saints, Brees has faced two serious injuries this season, a campaign that has been played under the constant hum of speculation that New Orleans might trade the face of the franchise this offseason.
The first injury, a bruised rotator cuff suffered in the second week against Tampa Bay, forced Brees to miss the first game of his career with an injury at Carolina the following week. Now, a torn plantar fascia could force the Saints to shelve Brees for the rest of the season.
Brees, who values his record of durability, has been able to finish both of the games that produced injuries this season, and he nearly led the Saints back from a 28-3 deficit Monday night.
This time, Brees came up limping after Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah caught the scrambling quarterback and forced him to throw it away. Brees came to the sideline, tested the foot out in front of trainers, got it re-taped and came back in. Although he was limping, Brees was effective after the injury. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
“I just had to keep it moving, because it was getting stiff,” Brees said. “But we were able to manage it.”
A torn plantar fascia does not necessarily have to end a player’s season. Two years ago, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham suffered a partial tear of the plantar fascia — the flat band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot from heel to toe — and continued playing, competing in all 16 games that year.
But the injury could force the Saints (5-9) to shut down their franchise quarterback.
If Brees misses the final two games, against Jacksonville and at Atlanta, New Orleans will have to make a decision between veteran backup Matt Flynn and rookie Garrett Grayson. Grayson, who has been on the 53-man roster all season, has been active for only three games; Flynn was signed after a season-ending injury to Luke McCown, who started in Brees’ place against Carolina.
Fans will clamor for Grayson, but as the third quarterback, the rookie has taken precious few snaps in practice most of the season. Flynn has been active as the backup to Brees in the past four games.
Another injury is disappointing for Brees, who has put together a solid statistical season despite the Saints’ struggles. He has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 4,135 yards, 28 touchdowns and 11 receptions, working with a blossoming receiving corps led by Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead to give the Saints the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL.
And while he has been piling up numbers, Brees has continued to move up some all-time lists. He moved into third place in career completions against Tampa Bay; joined both the 400-touchdown club and the 5,000-completion club against Dallas; tied the single-game record with seven touchdown passes against the New York Giants; and hit two more milestones Monday. Brees passed 60,000 career yards with a 27-yard touchdown toss to Brandin Cooks in the third quarter and, on the next series, he became the first quarterback to post 10 consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.