Saints' Brees to be No. 3 quarterback

Updated: January 2, 2010, 2:18 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees will get some rest in the New Orleans Saints' regular-season finale at Carolina, likely keeping his NFL-record completion percentage intact.

Coach Sean Payton has decided to start Mark Brunell in place of the star quarterback for Sunday's game.

If Brees doesn't play, as expected, his completion mark of 70.60 percent will break the record of 70.55 set by Ken Anderson with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982.

Brees was aware of the record.

"When I was a rookie quarterback in San Diego, I looked up all the records," he said on Thursday. "I just wanted to know, you know? So I knew them all by heart there for a while."

Still, Brees said earlier this week that he was prepared to play on Sunday and throw as often as Payton deemed necessary, taking the same approach to maintaining his completion percentage that Ted Williams took to hitting .400.

Brees wears No. 9 in honor of Williams, the Boston Red Sox legend who raised his batting average from .400 to .406 by playing on the final day of the 1941 baseball season.

"I'm going to do whatever I'm asked to do and whatever I can to help this team," Brees said Thursday.

The Saints (13-2) already own the top seed for the NFC playoffs. With little at stake, they also decided to not play safety Darren Sharper and tight end David Thomas on Sunday.

Sharper has a minor soreness in his left knee. He was listed as questionable on Friday, but was downgraded along with Thomas, who had been listed as doubtful with a calf injury.

Brees has thrown for 4,388 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. He completed 19 straight passes during the Saints' 20-17 overtime loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday. However, four promising drives produced no points in that game because of two third-down completions that came up a yard short of a first down, Marques Colston's fourth-quarter fumble in Bucs territory and Garrett Hartley's missed 37-yard field goal, which could have won the game at the end of regulation.

Before Payton made public his decision to sit Brees, the quarterback said setting the completions percentage record would be "a big deal, but any passing record like that is a big deal."

"You're not keeping track of that as the game goes on like, 'Hey, I've thrown two incompletions here in a row so I need to catch up by throwing six straight completions,' " Brees explained. "But from an efficiency standpoint ... there's something to that number in regards to how it shows the efficiency of your offense or your passing game."

Brees will be listed as the Saints' third quarterback, behind Brunell and rookie Chase Daniel. The Times-Picayune first reported the move and the coach confirmed it to The Associated Press in an e-mail Saturday.

Daniel was signed from the Saints' practice squad to the active roster and the club waived veteran cornerback Mike McKenzie, according to a transaction posted on the team's Web site.

McKenzie's removal from the active roster raised the prospects of cornerback Jabari Greer returning from his sports hernia for one game before the Saints begin preparations for the playoffs. Greer has missed the last seven games and said he was ready and wanted to play this weekend.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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