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Saints plan to start Drew Brees in preseason finale

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Sean Payton taking a risk playing Brees in fourth preseason game (1:01)

Tim Hasselbeck and Adam Schefter wonder why the Saints are playing Drew Brees in the fourth preseason game. (1:01)

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints are so eager to generate some momentum after a sloppy start to the preseason that quarterback Drew Brees is likely to start his first preseason finale since 2006 on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens.

"We're gonna play a lot of our guys early on in this game," Saints coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. "I think it's important that those guys get work at those positions. And so our plan early in the first quarter is to play our starters and then make a transition at some point."

When asked if that includes Brees and others who wouldn't normally play in the preseason finale, Payton said, "Our plan is to start the game playing our guys. Yeah, that's our plan."

Brees hasn't been too shabby this summer, completing 15 of 21 passes for 144 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

But the offense, in general, has flopped during New Orleans' 0-3 start -- with the offensive line especially struggling in both pass protection and the run game.

"I don't know the playing time at this point, but I know the mindset this whole week has been that we're playing," Brees said. "We had a lot to work on obviously coming off of last week. And it's just part of the process. We've just got things we're really trying to fine-tune, some things that are still in the works, to be honest with you. ...

"The more time we can get together, the better."

When someone pointed out to Brees that he hadn't played in a preseason finale in 10 years, he said, "Doesn't matter to me, football is football, a game's a game."

The Saints' starting defense played better in the first two exhibition games before getting torched by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 27-14 loss last week.

And the Saints have repeatedly hurt themselves in the turnover department. Their margin of minus-6 (three takeaways, nine giveaways) ranks 31st among NFL teams this summer.

"We have to find ways to win games," safety Roman Harper said. "This preseason, we've been finding ways to lose games."

The timing couldn't be much worse, considering Payton stressed last month that he would place more of an emphasis than ever this year on winning preseason games. Payton said this young Saints team needed to build confidence and a winning culture following back-to-back 7-9 seasons.

However, Payton said after Friday's loss to Pittsburgh that he is not concerned about any sort of demoralizing effect.

"I don't see it spiraling," Payton said. "This is a good group. They're working hard. The key is that we just recognize the things. We've still got more time here, but we've got to have a sense of urgency about some of these things that have shown up more than just one game."