Saints quarterback Luke McCown says team 'very close,' needs to focus on positives after 0-3 start _lowres

New Orleans Saints' Luke McCown (7) looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)


Quarterback Luke McCown feels the Saints will be fine if they tune out the negativity coming from the public and focus on the positives despite their 0-3 start.

“We’ve very close,” he said. “Literally two plays each of the last three games, and we’re 3-0. We have to know that as a team. If we start listening to the outside noise too much about how we’re 0-3 and we’re so far back in the division, then it will pile on.

“But if we bow our chest up a little bit and go we’re not that far away, we need to make one or two more plays and it’s all different for us, I think we’ll do that here.”

It remains to be seen whether or not McCown will have an active role in that process this Sunday night against Dallas in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Saints coach Sean Payton said Monday that Drew Brees would play if he were healthy enough after sitting out Sunday’s 27-22 loss to Carolina with a bruised rotator cuff.

“One thing that’s certain is the day-to-day progress he’s made,” Payton said. “Truly a week ago at this time, even Wednesday and Thursday, we didn’t know. Then on Friday we thought it was smart to rest it. (We are) optimistic and yet we’ll just pay attention to his symptoms and his strength.”

McCown filled in admirably, finishing 31 of 38 for 310 yards in his first NFL regular-season start since 2011. He did not throw a touchdown pass, though, getting picked off in the end zone on a potential game-winning throw to wide receiver Brandin Cooks with 1:09 left.

McCown would love another shot, but that depends on Brees’ health.

“His (Brees’) words to me were I feel exponentially better every day,” McCown said. “Now how that correlates to reacting and throwing, that’s between him and the doctors. That’s well above my pay grade, but I know he’s feeling better and he wants to get back on the field.”

Payton said the only question would be whether Brees was ready.

“I read things a week ago that had to do with Carolina’s defense (factoring into Brees playing or not), and all of that’s silly,” he said. “Our job is to rehab and get players healthy, and when we feel like they are healthy enough to play, then they are going to play.”

Already trailing NFC South division leaders Carolina and Atlanta by three games, the Saints have no margin for error as they try to recover. Echoing McCown, cornerback Brandon Browner insisted the hole was not too large to escape.

“You’ve seen the games, right?” he said. “It’s come down to the last two minutes of the game the last three weeks.”