NFL

Brees 'confident' Payton will return to Saints

12/20 9:16 AM

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees expressed confidence that coach Sean Payton will return in 2013.

IRVING, Texas -- In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees expressed confidence that coach Sean Payton will return to the team in 2013.

There was speculation a few weeks ago when it was revealed by ESPN that Payton's contract extension with the Saints was voided. It led some to believe Payton was trying to get out of his deal with the Saints, and if Dallas let go of coach Jason Garrett, he would take the Cowboys' job.

But with Dallas in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East and needing to win out to win the division, it appears Garrett and Payton will stay where they are.

"Yeah, you know honestly, I haven't really worried about that," Brees said. "It seems like there's been enough going on here for us to focus on and really try not to think about that. I'm very confident that Sean will be back here in New Orleans. So (we've) just been trying to focus on football and not think about that."

Garrett said he's ignored the Payton rumors because his focus remains on the Cowboys.

Brees' season without his mentor, Payton, has been trying. Minus the coach, who is suspended because of his role in the Saints' bounty scandal, the Saints started 0-4. But New Orleans regrouped to win three straight in the middle of the season to improve to 5-5.

"It's hard to rally from something like that," Brees said of the 0-4 start.

A 31-21 loss to San Francisco started a three-game losing streak that basically ended any hopes of a playoff berth.

Brees has had one of his toughest seasons because he not only leads the league in passing yards (4,335) but is tied for the league lead in interceptions (18), as well. Brees said he's missed Payton's ability to communicate with the team, and given how the suspended coach lives in the Dallas area, he understands the emotions connected to the Cowboys-Saints game on Sunday.

"I think everybody is making a much bigger deal out of this than it needs to be," Brees said. "I know it's a big topic and that kind of thing. We have enough motivation for why we want to win this game and everything else. Is it easy motivation that I know that Coach Payton is less than 20 miles away watching the game on TV as opposed to a couple 100 miles away? No.

"I guess it doesn't really make a difference to us; he's always with us, even though we haven't been able to talk to him or communicate with him. That's been tough and that's been difficult. It is what it is. We've just try to manage."


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