INDIANAPOLIS -- Drew Brees said he's still not quite back to 100 percent in his recovery from a strained oblique. But you could hardly tell based on his performance in the New Orleans Saints' 23-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
Brees needed less than one quarter of preseason action to prove he's ready for the regular season.
He threw two touchdown passes during three first-quarter drives while making his preseason debut. Then he hit the bench for the rest of the night -- and possibly the rest of the preseason.
Brees, who missed the Saints' first two preseason games after suffering the injury in practice Aug. 1, completed 9 of 15 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns, one to fullback Austin Johnson on the opening drive and another to receiver Marques Colston.
"I don't think I'm 100 percent yet. But I feel like the tempo and the rhythm and all those things are coming back as expected," said Brees, who added that he felt like it was a "progression" throughout the week after he returned to full practice participation Sunday. "It's just getting all the rhythm and timing back. And probably from a health standpoint, it's still just not quite all there yet."
Brees also ran 10 yards for a first down on a third-and-8 play -- probably not the wisest decision in an exhibition game, but further evidence that he is feeling healthy and limber.
Brees said he never considered holding back on the run play.
"No. It's third-and-10. The end zone's right there. You gotta go get it," Brees said.
Saints coach Sean Payton didn't commit to whether Brees will play in Thursday's preseason finale at home against the Baltimore Ravens. In the past, it has been about a 50-50 split as to whether Brees plays in that game.
"We'll be smart, especially being a short week," Payton said. "The key is just getting reps during practice, and he's experienced enough to understand the difference between practice and game speed.
"But I thought during the course of the [past] week, I thought the ball was coming off his hand really sharp, accurate. And I think the same thing existed tonight.
"It was good to see Drew back on the field, and he seemed to get into a pretty good rhythm."