Brees expects to play in Saints' 3rd preseason game _lowres

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Drew Brees throws the ball during the Saints practice that was opened to fans at the New Orleans Saints training facility in Metairie, La. Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014.

Every time Drew Brees completed a pass in the first half of the Saints’ Sunday afternoon practice, the standing-room only crowd cheered.

That’s what happens when the franchise quarterback participates for the first time since Aug 1 due to a strained left oblique.

Brees’ availability was the clear highlight of the day—he and coach Sean Payton said they expected him to play Saturday in the third preseason game—but Ryan Griffin made the throw of the day. One play after connecting with Charles Hawkins on a crossing route in front of cornerback cornerback Corey White in a seven-on-seven drill, Griffin launched a long touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who got behind cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste.

Brees had his moments, too, showing no issues with arm strength. Right from the start, he hit Nick Toon for a touchdown in a 2-minute walkthrough. In seven-on-seven work, he zipped a pass to Marques Colston on an out pattern, and Colston made a one-handed catch.

That play drew huge applause –for the execution and the identity of the two guys. Colston did not dress against the Tennessee Titans for an undisclosed reason.

Aside from Brees likely being available to play Saturday, Payton revealed that safety Jairus Byrd would practice Monday.

Byrd began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after undergoing offseason back surgery and has not practiced in a team drill since then.

The other players who missed Sunday’s practice were cornerback Champ Bailey, cornerback Patrick Robinson, cornerback Terrence Frederick and fullback Eri Lorig. Payton did not comment on any of them.