Daniel next up if Brees stays out
In less than a week, the New Orleans Saints begin their organized team activities — a series of 10 practice sessions held over three weeks — likely without Drew Brees for the first time in seven seasons.
While Saints’ fans all over are sitting on pins and needles wondering when Brees and the club will agree on a long-term deal that will keep him in black and gold for the rest of his record-shattering career, life will go on.
With 161/2 weeks to go before the regular-season opener, the holdup in getting Brees signed is far more disconcerting to fans than any bounty program or allegations that General Manager Mickey Loomis listened in on opposing coaches’ conversations in his press box-level suite from 2000-04.
That’s only natural, considering Brees’ incredibly lengthy list of headline-making accomplishments, not the least of which is leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl title.
But as much as they’d like to have him on the field next week, the Saints’ staff — minus suspended head coach Sean Payton, of course — will do what it always does when a player isn’t there: Coach the ones that are.
You hear it every year regardless of whether it’s the team’s top draft pick or an All-Pro. This, however, is the first time they’re facing life without Brees, who has said he won’t play for the one-year franchise tender of $16.371 million.
If Brees doesn’t have a new contract by Monday, fourth-year pro Chase Daniel will get the keys to the offense for at least the first few OTA sessions with 2010 seventh-round pick Sean Canfield, who’s spent the last two seasons on the practice squad, riding shotgun.
Daniel, Brees’ backup for the past two seasons, has hit on 6 of 8 passes for 45 yards — a semi-decent drive for Brees — in his career.
Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., who will handle the play-calling duties this season with Payton sidelined by the NFL, said Brees’ understudy is ready for the challenge.
“This will be an opportunity for him, and he knows it,” Carmichael said Monday. “He’ll have an opportunity to work with the (first-team offense) if Drew’s not here.”
Carmichael said he’s talked to Brees, but not specifically about the offense and the install process that the staff will be working on this week and implementing in the first OTA on Tuesday.
At this point, the only thing Brees has missed is conditioning and weightlifting — which is in its fifth week.
Fans shouldn’t even be concerned with that considering how Brees takes care of himself in the offseason with rigorous workouts under the supervision of a personal trainer in San Diego.
Even if he misses all the OTAs and full-squad minicamp to be held June 5-7, Brees won’t have any trouble getting back up to speed — whenever he returns.
“Obviously, we’re going to miss the leadership he brings,” Carmichael said. “But this is going to be an opportunity for Chase and Sean to get more reps and (for us to) get a good look at those guys.”