METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees was already back throwing a smaller-sized football on Saturday, less than three weeks removed from thumb surgery on his right throwing hand.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback posted the video on social media along with the caption, “Shhhhhhhhh….,” a thumbs-up emoji and a wink emoji. Although he wasn’t throwing a regulation-sized football, the scene of him throwing and catching the ball at the Saints’ practice facility was another encouraging sign that he could potentially beat the projected recovery timetable of six to eight weeks.

Brees also returned to Saints practices earlier this week. Though he didn’t throw any footballs during the portions open to the media, he did take part in some of the individual drills and stretching, etc.

The Saints (3-1) will try to win their third straight game without him on Sunday with backup QB Teddy Bridgewater at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brees said he tore the ulnar collateral ligament “off the bone” when he hit his right throwing thumb against the hand of Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in Week 2. He had the ligament surgically repaired three days later by Dr. Steven Shin in Los Angeles.

One week later, Brees told WWL Radio that “they say” it takes six weeks to recover, but, “I think I can beat that.”

A Saints source told ESPN’s Ed Werder last week that Brees’ return will be determined by his functionality in terms of throwing accurately and being healthy enough to protect the football when hit. “This is not about grit and want-to and all that. This is about functionality,” the source said. “If it was about those other things, he would already be out there.”