Brees still out; Jenkins, Grubbs return

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Drew Brees remained sidelined when the New Orleans Saints got back on the practice field Sunday afternoon. But he continued to show progress in his recovery from a strained oblique while firing some hard passes to receiver Kenny Stills on a secondary practice field.

Though it’s unclear if Brees will return in time for the Saints’ second preseason game Friday against the Tennessee Titans, there does appear to be reason for optimism that he’ll be back in plenty of time for the regular season.

“No update,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Sunday. “I really mean it, we’ll go day-to-day. He’s making progress, and yet I just want to make sure that it’s something we don’t hurry back. Same way with Kenny (quad strain), we’ll just be smart day-to-day.”

On a positive note, Saints nose tackle John Jenkins practiced for the first time all summer after being officially taken off the PUP list (physically unable to perform). And guard Ben Grubbs returned to practice for the first time in roughly two weeks after being sidelined by an undisclosed injury.

Both players were held out of full-team drills, but they were dressed in full pads and participated in most of the individual position drills. Jenkins made a strong debut in one-on-one pass-rush drills, getting the best of center Tim Lelito at least once.

Jenkins, a promising second-year pro, missed the entire summer after having pectoral surgery.

“Being back on the roster and practicing is one thing, but we’ve got to be mindful that there’s a transition here that’s not everything right away,” Payton said. “He’s in better shape. I’d say his weight’s down (from last year). I think that’s difficult sometimes when you’re injured and you’re a big guy.

“But I thought he had a pretty solid rookie season, and I’m sure there’s some technique things. And from a snap count, he’s gonna be a guy that factors in and hopefully plays the role he did a year ago and makes improvement, like all the guys going into Year 2.”

Payton didn’t specify Jenkins’ current weight -- but he said it’s an important issue for him. Last summer, Jenkins talked about trying to get down from about 360 pounds to 340.

“His weight last year was solid, but it’s something that he’s conscientious of. And there’s a perfect weight for him, and when it gets north of that, you can see it affects his play,” Payton said. “This next week will be important for him as he transitions into what we’re doing. … But he is conscientious, and he’s someone that learns fairly quickly.”

Some other injury updates:

  • Running back Pierre Thomas remained sidelined by an undisclosed injury, though he was out on the field watching practice and doing some individual work off to the side.

  • Cornerback Patrick Robinson was absent for the second half of practice, though Payton declined to explain why.

  • Guard Jahri Evans, cornerback Champ Bailey, fullback Erik Lorig and outside linebacker Victor Butler remained absent from practice. Cornerback Rod Sweeting, who left Friday’s preseason game with an undisclosed injury, was also absent. Offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe, safety Ty Zimmerman and tight end Je’Ron Hamm were present but not in pads.

  • Receiver Andy Tanner and cornerback Terrence Frederick also returned to limited work in full pads.

  • Safety Jairus Byrd continued to be held out of full-team drills, though he participated in everything else.