Brees had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. The operation was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Steven Shin, the doctor who also operated on Trout’s thumb in 2017.
Trout, a two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star for the Los Angeles Angels, missed just over six weeks during the 2017 season after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.
Trout told Brees, however, that he could have returned from the surgery in five weeks, and once he did, he was pain-free and had full range of motion, sources told ESPN.
Brees, 40, who is expected to miss six weeks but has not been placed on injured reserve, wanted to know about the rehab process, and Trout spelled it out for him. So even before he began his rehab, Brees already was eyeing the quickest possible return.
Brees visited with Shin after suffering the injury in last Sunday’s loss in Los Angeles to the Rams. He traveled to Houston for a consultation with Dr. Tom Hunt, another hand specialist, before returning to Los Angeles to have Shin perform an InternalBrace ligament-augmentation operation, virtually the identical surgery Shin performed on Trout.
“After speaking with both doctors and other professional athletes, there have been no other NFL quarterbacks to have this surgery with the internal bracing on their throwing hand — I take that as a challenge!” Brees wrote in a text message to ESPN.
The Saints also haven’t given up hope that Brees could return sooner than the expected six-week timeline, according to sources. The Saints’ schedule sets up for Brees to be back Nov. 10 against Atlanta, after the bye week, which means he would miss six games.
Returning after the bye would give Brees seven weeks to recover — with six games missed — but Brees “wants to play and knows the window [in New Orleans] is short,” one source said.
Brees wanted to join the Saints in Seattle for their game Sunday against the Seahawks but was warned by Shin not to fly to Seattle because of the risk of a setback due to possible “swelling and iNFLammation.”
“The first 7-to-10 days of post-surgery are really important,” Brees said in a text message. “It crushes me not to be there with them, but I have to do everything I can to get back as fast and strong as possible.”
Brees is aware he has an opportunity to be an injury pioneer for the second time in his NFL career, having made an unlikely comeback from major reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2007 when Dr. James Andrews repaired a radically torn labrum and rotator cuff with 13 anchors. Andrews did the repair without having to open Brees’ shoulder with a scalpel.
Brees was under center nine months later for the Saints, who took a risk by signing him to a free-agent contract. The rest literally has been history, as Brees broke Peyton Manning’s NFL record for career passing yards last season.
“Drew was a one-in-a-million comeback,” Andrews said. “The surgery was one thing, but the rehab Drew did with [therapist] Kevin Wilk was everything. Drew had an insatiable appetite for every detail of surgery and rehab. He was relentless.”