"I have every intention of playing, but I do have to take it day to day, and I have to be smart with this. So that's what I'm doing," said Brees, who said the reported diagnosis of a bruised right rotator cuff "sounds accurate."
Brees said the risk of reinjury is always a concern when it comes to the throwing shoulder. But he said the decision of whether to play will be based more on how he feels and "how effective I can be."
"I didn't throw today but just was limited, participated in some stuff, ran around. The idea is just to make progress every day," said Brees, who said he has also done strengthening exercises related to the throwing motion.
Brees was suited up for practice again Thursday. There was no word yet on whether he threw or how extensively he participated.
Brees said he believes it will be his decision on whether he plays. Coach Sean Payton declined to offer many specifics or go into any "hypotheticals" about what will go into the decision, and he referred to Brees as "day to day" several times.
But Payton gave Brees a strong endorsement during his conference call with Panthers media.
"I think our thoughts -- and I feel like Drew's the same way -- our training staff feels like there's a real good chance he's playing for us, and we expect that to happen," Payton said. "But Luke [McCown] is an accomplished player, he's clearly on top of what we do offensively and would be ready if the time comes."
Brees, 36, has never missed a regular-season game with injury in his 15-year career. His major shoulder injury in 2005 came during Week 17 when he was with the San Diego Chargers.
"Not used to it, don't like it. I've obviously dealt with things in the past," Brees said. "Each day you wake up, you see how you feel, what maybe more you can do compared to the day before.
"Obviously you're dealing with something that you've got to be smart because you don't want to aggravate it, reinjure it, hurt it more, make it worse. So there's a balance to what we're doing here in regards to rehab and recovery and rest vs. trying to get back."
When asked how hard it might be to decide whether it's smarter to go with him at something like 75 percent or McCown at 100 percent, Brees said, "I'll have to evaluate that when the time comes."