Brees set for Saints return

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is expecting to return for Sunday night's visit of the Dallas Cowboys, according to coach Sean Payton.

Brees missed last weekend's 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers due to a bruised rotator cuff in his right shoulder but started taking first-team snaps at practice again this week.

"We're planning on starting him, based on the work week," Payton said after Friday practice. "He's thrown well. I thought he looked sharp."

Saints running-back Mark Ingram added: "He looks good. He's been throwing it good and having good zip on it. He must be feeling good."

"It just says a lot about his character, his overcoming adversity," Ingram added. "He was always very uplifting, very encouraging and confident even when he wasn't playing. … He was supporting, encouraging us. He's always had his head held up high. You can't tell the difference in him, so that's good."

Brees had said on Wednesday that he felt good about his chances of playing against the 2-1 Cowboys and is officially listed as probable on the injury report.

Veteran backup Luke McCown started last Sunday and went well after completing 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards, but Brees has started all but two games since 2006 and will be looking to guide the Saints to their first win of the season after a disappointing 0-3 start.

"Luke was fantastic last week … but there's a reason that Drew is who he is," said right Saints tackle Zach Strief. "To have him back especially in a game that obviously is important for us because we can't keep losing, so you want your best guys in the game.

"He does more than anybody in the building to get ready to play, whether that's rehab or film," Strief added. "If he's capable and able, I'm sure he'll be ready to go and I thought he looked good this week."