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Saints QB Drew Brees: Feel 'really good' about being able to play

METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees said he felt good enough to take most of the reps during Wednesday's practice and feels "really good" about being able to play on Sunday night when the New Orleans Saints host the Dallas Cowboys.

"That's four days away, and I feel like I'll just continue to make progress and go from there," said Brees, who threw during actual practice reps on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a bruised rotator cuff in Week 2.

Brees laughed when he was asked whether no throws were off limits on Wednesday.

"I was going to temper my enthusiasm with some of the stuff. You know, just be smart and just make sure that it's one of these ramp-ups and it's not zero to 60," Brees said. "So I'll just continue to kind of ramp up with volume and intensity as the week goes on."

Brees sat out this past Sunday's game at Carolina -- the first game he had missed due to injury since he was in high school. But he has continued to make progress each day this week, starting with a positive evaluation from Dr. James Andrews on Monday in Birmingham, Ala.

Coach Sean Payton said it is "safe to say" that Brees -- who was officially listed as limited in team drills Wednesday -- will throw every day in practice this week.

"I'll see how the shoulder responds tomorrow and for the rest of the day. But each day I'm able to do more and more; each day I feel stronger," Brees said. "Each day there's more range of motion, more strength, and so that's the key."

Brees said he won't let the decision linger until game day. So he hopes to be able to decide by Friday like he did last week, when he and Payton decided he wasn't going to be ready in time.

All along, Brees said the shoulder needs to have enough strength and "functionality" to make all the throws he needs to make to be successful, rather than any issue of pain tolerance or risk of reinjury.

Brees said it was helpful to throw in actual practice reps instead of just throwing off to the side in rehab sessions.

"There's something different about when you go through the mechanics of getting in the huddle, calling the play, getting up to the ball, going through your pre-snap reads, and then actually having to react to an open receiver vs. just standing there and being kind of mechanical and calculated about throwing the ball," said Brees, who mimicked some of the awkward throws that quarterbacks sometimes need to make.

"We call 'em 'funny body throws,'" he said.

In other Brees news, the 36-year-old quarterback agreed to tweak his contract to provide the Saints some salary-cap relief this season. It was a simple restructure that didn't involve any kind of pay cut or pay raise. It just shifted $2.6 million in cap costs from this year to next year.

However, that did increase Brees' salary-cap total to $30 million next year, which will be the highest in the NFL and the highest of any player since at least 2002, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That includes $20 million in salary and bonuses in the final year of Brees' contract. But he said he and the Saints haven't talked about addressing the contract beyond this year.

"Next year is next year," Brees said.

The Saints needed some wiggle room since they were slammed tight against this year's cap because of various injured-reserve and practice-squad transactions. But whatever decision the team makes with Brees' contract going forward won't be affected by his latest contract tweak. A source confirmed to ESPN's Ed Werder that the 2016 salary-cap figure was inconsequential because it was already going to be among the highest in the NFL and it was already likely to encourage the Saints to renegotiate in the offseason.