Brees ruled out of Panthers clash

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will not play against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday as he continues his recovery from an injury to his right shoulder.

Veteran Brees was optimistic that he would be able to start despite suffering a bruised rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder but has subsequently been ruled out with Luke McCown named the starter.

"I haven't missed a game due to injury in 20 years, since my junior year of high school. I consider myself very fortunate for that," Brees told ESPN.

"That's another reason why this decision was so tough.

"Bottom line is Luke McCown gives us the best chance to win this week. I have to be honest with myself and do what is in the best interests of the team. I have total confidence in Luke, as does our team."

Saints coach Sean Payton admitted that this weekend would have come too soon for Brees, who has never missed a regular season game during his 10 years in New Orleans, and conceded the 36-year-old will continue to be assessed on a week-to-week basis.

"I think just where he's at in the rehab and the strength, I think he felt like it would be too early, him playing this weekend," Payton said.

"And I would say next week then continue the process without trying to put an estimation on his return.

"He felt like he made progress throughout the week, and yet it's still not where it needs to be or where we would feel comfortable with the strength that he needs. But he did get better each day, and we'll just see where it's at next week."

"I don't think it was a difficult decision. I think actually it was the opposite for just where he's at."