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Drew Brees still thinks he could play 'til 45, but 'not naïve'

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A year ago, Drew Brees made the bold declaration that he'd like to play 10 more years -- until the age of 45. This year, the 36-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback said he still believes he could do it, "but I'm taking it one year at a time."

"I mean, I'm not naïve," Brees said after a strong practice Wednesday against the New England Patriots. "Physiologically, I think it can be done, I'll leave it at that. Do I think I could do it? Yes. But I'm not naïve to think that it's a given. I mean, you gotta come out and prove it each and every year. Prove your worth, your value, and show that you can still play at a high level. So that's what I'm focused on is, ‘How good can we be as a team this year?' Then worry about those other years after this one.

"But, yeah, I love football, I love this game, I love this team, I'd like to be around for a while."

When asked if he thinks he'll wear down mentally even before physically, Brees talked about the highs and lows he experiences 15 years into his NFL career.

"It's a grind mentally. It's a real grind mentally," Brees said. "That's why when the season ends you want to escape for at least a month and just get away. But, no, I mean, it's almost a part of the fun."

Brees said there is "a lot of satisfaction" in putting in the long hours to prepare for a game, then watching things happen that you visualized.

He also said it's rewarding to "watch young guys gain confidence and come out of their shell and become the players that you always hoped they could be."

"There's something invigorating about that," said Brees, who is breaking in a number of pass-catchers this year. "So that's what keeps you going."