Source: Brees making progress toward return

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is improving from his 11 fractured ribs, was spotted throwing at practice this past week and is tracking to play as early as Week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles, a source tells ESPN.

Brees will not definitely play against Philadelphia, but he clearly has progressed enough in his recovery that New Orleans could have another quarterback decision to make next Sunday, when he is eligible to come off injured reserve.

Taysom Hill will make his third straight start under center Sunday in the Saints’ game against the Atlanta Falcons, and his performance also could influence how quickly Brees returns. New Orleans has won each of its last two games, and Hill has passed for 311 yards and also rushed for four touchdowns over that stretch.

If New Orleans keeps winning and Hill keeps playing well, it removes any rush the Saints might feel to bring back Brees and it could get him extra time. But if New Orleans loses Sunday and Hill struggles, the team could be in position to turn back to Brees.

Brees, 41, was placed on IR on Nov. 20 because of the fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, forcing him to miss a minimum of three games. He said at the time that he hoped to be ready to play by Week 14, although the Saints have not given a timeline for his return.

The Saints (9-2) own the best record in the NFC, and there are multiple scenarios in which they could clinch a postseason berth Sunday.

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