Saints' Brees won't play in today's finale
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees will get some rest in the New Orleans Saints' regular-season finale at Carolina, likely keeping his NFL-record completion percentage intact.
Coach Sean Payton has decided to start Mark Brunell in place of the star quarterback for today's game.
If Brees doesn't play, as expected, his completion mark of 70.60 percent will break the record of 70.55 set by Ken Anderson with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982.
Brees was aware of the record.
"When I was a rookie quarterback in San Diego, I looked up all the records," he said Thursday. "I just wanted to know, you know? So I knew them all by heart there for a while."
Still, Brees said earlier this week that he was prepared to play today and throw as often as Payton deemed necessary, taking the same approach to maintaining his completion percentage that Ted Williams took to hitting .400.
Brees wears No. 9 in honor of Williams, the Boston Red Sox legend who raised his batting average from .400 to .406 by playing on the final day of the 1941 baseball season.
"I'm going to do whatever I'm asked to do and whatever I can to help this team," Brees said Thursday.
The Saints (13-2) already own the top seed for the NFC playoffs. With little at stake, they also decided to not play safety Darren Sharper and tight end David Thomas today.
Before Payton made public his decision to sit Brees, the quarterback said setting the completions percentage record would be "a big deal, but any passing record like that is a big deal."
Sharper has minor soreness in his left knee. He was listed as questionable Friday, but was downgraded along with Thomas, who had been listed as doubtful with a calf injury.
Brees has thrown for 4,388 yards and 34 touchdowns this season.
Brees will be listed as the Saints' third quarterback, behind Brunell and rookie Chase Daniel. The Times-Picayune first reported the move and the coach confirmed it to The Associated Press in an e-mail yesterday.
Broncos: The receiving-thin Denver Broncos have promoted wide receiver Matt Willis from their practice squad, an indication that Eddie Royal is unlikely to play today. Coach Josh McDaniels already is benching Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler for disciplinary reasons for the game against Kansas City with a playoff berth at stake.
Browns: Cleveland placed rookie linebacker David Veikune (knee injury) on injured reserve and elevated running back Thomas Brown from the practice squad to the active roster. Veikune, a second-round draft pick (53rd overall) from the University of Hawai'i, has been inactive for five of the last six games. Veikune did not record a tackle in the 10 games he was active this season.