Drew Brees: Matt Ryan among NFL's elite

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan recently told ESPN.com he studies Drew Brees and several of the other elite quarterbacks around the league.

Ryan's words were relayed to Brees via conference call Wednesday as the Saints prepare to face the Falcons Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Brees' response showed how much respect he has for Ryan's game.

"First of all, I'm humbled by that," Brees said of Ryan studying him. "I think Matt Ryan is an exceptional player. I think he belongs in the elite category in this league. I think he's been extremely consistent and has played at a very, very high level ever since he's been there."

Like Ryan, Brees does his share of studying the great quarterbacks.

"I think the guys who I study, a lot of the guys are pretty obvious ones," Brees said. "The (Tom) Bradys, the Aaron (Rodgers), Peyton (Manning).

"Here's the thing: I'm a fan of the game. ... There are certain offenses I like watching when you're about to play the next week's opponent and you're kind of looking at the list of games of who have they played recently. You're excited about watching certain games to see certain quarterbacks, certain offenses, certain coordinators; that kind of thing. Not that you're measuring yourself against them, but you're picking up on little things here and there that you feel like they can help you become a better player."