SAINTS CAMP REPORT: Drew Brees misses practice with wife expected to give birth soon

It sounds like there will soon be a new member of the Brees family.

The Saints said Drew Brees was not at Monday’s practice to be with his pregnant wife, Brittany, who was expected to soon give birth to the couple’s fourth child.

Saints coach Sean Payton said “everything is going and good, and I think you’ll hear something” when asked about Brees’ absence after practice.

Brees returned to the field for Saturday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts after missing the first two preseason games due to a left oblique strain. He completed 9-of-15 passes for 128 yards with two touchdowns.

He and Brittany have three sons — Baylen, Bowen and Callen. They are expecting their first daughter.

It is not known if Brees will play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens. Payton said he expects Ryan Griffin to see a good amount of snaps in that game.

Team makes cuts

The Saints continued getting a head start on trimming their roster down to 75 players by a 3 p.m. deadline Tuesday after cutting a few Monday.

Wide receiver Andy Tanner, safety Ty Zimmerman and tackle Ty Nsekhe were all let go, the Saints announced. Guard/tackle Manase Foketi was told he’d be waived, a source confirmed to The Advocate. Tight end Travis Beckum on Monday night sent out a message on Twitter that he had been released.

The Saints began trimming their 90-man roster last week by waiving four players. That means they had no more than 81 players on their roster Monday night.

Nsekhe sat out all three exhibitions so far this preseason, which were all Saints wins. Tanner (eight offensive snaps against Tennessee) and Zimmerman (29 defensive snaps at St. Louis) each missed two, including this Saturday’s at Indianapolis.

Those three had missed practices recently.

Foketi played a total of 21 offensive snaps at St. Louis and against Tennessee. He signed with the Saints in May after spending part of 2013 on Buffalo’s practice squad.

Beckum, who last played in the NFL with the Giants in 2011, did not log a snap in either exhibition for which he was on the Saints.

Tanner was on and off the Saints’ practice squad from 2010 to 2013. He made the 53-man roster the Saints took into Week 1 last year but was inactive when the team played Atlanta in the season opener and was then waived. He had no catches this preseason.

Nsekhe had been with the Saints since January. He had previously spent time with Indianapolis and St. Louis, for whom he was active in two games.

Zimmerman was an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State. He had five tackles (three solo).

The Saints will play their preseason finale at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against Baltimore on Thursday night. They’ll have until 3 p.m. Saturday to get their roster down to 53 players.

Kicker battle continues

While some of the other battles in camp appear to be settle, the one between kickers Derek Dimke and Shayne Graham will like continue until the Saints are forced to make a decision.

Payton said Monday that he is comfortable going with either kicker and this battle is one of the most-discussed topics when the coaches are discussing personnel.

“I think we feel good about the two we have here,” Payton said. “I wouldn’t confuse the fact that we haven’t made a decision with these two with the idea that we’re unhappy.”

Payton said that he plans to create another competitive situation between the kickers during Tuesday’s practice and then will let that situation continue to play out Thursday. The team is considering efficiency, the distance each kicker is capable of kicking from, and the get-off time of each kick.

Graham is 4-for-4 this preseason, while Dimke is 2-for-2.

While a decision has not been made on which kicker wins the job, Payton seemed confident that one of the two men will hold it down this season and said the team is not looking at external options.

“We’re really making sure that we’re trying to make the right decision,” Payton said. “I don’t know that we’re looking at outside kickers. I think a team or two is looking to see what we do.”

Participation report

Saints not practicing Monday were safety Marcus Ball, tackle Thomas Welch, safety Rafael Bush, linebacker Khairi Fortt and wide receiver Kenny Stills.

Fortt hurt a leg in the Tennessee game. Stills has been battling a persistent quad injury.

LB Victor Butler (undisclosed) was in pads and limited in practice Monday after being out since around the beginning of training camp and being sidelined for the first three preseason games.

Butler also missed all of the 2013 campaign with a preseason knee injury, and Payton on Monday said it’s been difficult to gauge the linebacker’s progress with him out.

Butler’s spot on the roster seemed tenuous, and there was a report from WWL Radio’s Kristian Garic that he was being released.

Nick Underhill and Ramon Antonio Vargas

Five observations from Monday’s practice session:

1To follow up on his pick in Saturday’s win at Indianapolis, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro stripped Mark Ingram and recovered the fumble in drills.

2After playing well with the first string Saturday, center Jonathan Goodwin worked with the first-teamers all practice.

3In a first-string two-minute drill, QB Luke McCown drove the offense past the 20 but then the drive stalled. A desperation fourth-down end zone heave was intercepted by Champ Bailey.

4 Jairus Byrd, Patrick Robinson and David Hawthorne all registered emphatic pass break-ups.

5 After missing a couple of practices last week and not playing a snap at Indianapolis on Saturday, rookie WR Brandin Cooks participated in team drills and returned punts.

Ramon Antonio Vargas

NEXT THREE UP:

TUESDAY:

11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Saints facility, open to public).

Roster must be reduced to 75 players. It was at 86 at the end of Saturday’s exhibition at Indianapolis.

WEDNESDAY:

OFF (break camp)

THURSDAY’S EXHIBITION

vs. Baltimore Ravens (7 p.m.CDT, Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

Going Digital:

VIDEO: Watch Saints running back Mark Ingram talks about the depth at offensive line.

BLOG: Find much more we couldn’t fit in the paper at blogs.theadvocate.com/sports/saints