New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees speaks at a news conference for a charity… (Gregory Bull / Associated…)
CARLSBAD -- The New Orleans Saints will open their off-season workouts Monday and won't have their head coach.
They might not have their star quarterback, either.
Asked Tuesday whether he plans to sign his franchise tender so he can be at those workouts, Drew Brees said, "We're continuing to work on a long-term deal."
Asked again whether that means he'll be there Monday, Brees gave an identical answer.
Brees was at La Costa Resort and Spa to promote the 2012 Drew Brees Celebrity Championship, a golf tournament that supports the Brees Dream Foundation and benefits several San Diego charities.
In his first comments since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of Saints Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt, the quarterback said he was disappointed yet confident the team can rebound.
"Obviously we're all very disappointed, this is a shock to all of us," he said. "But whatever is thrown at us, we're just going to have to find a way to get through it, deal with it, stick together and stay strong. We'll see how this progress moves on as we go, but we have a job to do and that's to play football games, win football games."
Brees referenced how the team had to adjust last season when Payton suffered a leg injury on the sideline that confined him to the coaches' booth.
"For the next six weeks, [Payton] was up in the box and was not in my ear, and he always had been the one in my ear," he said. "So there was an adjustment that we had to go through there. It was almost as if our head coach had been taken away from us there for about a four- to six-week period. I felt like everyone stepped up and did a phenomenal job."
Brees conceded the audiotape released last week of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- one in which the coach directs his players to go for the head and knees of specific San Francisco 49ers -- was "hard for everybody to hear."
"I know this: when a guy has an opportunity to take a shot at a quarterback, he's going to take it," he said. "I'm not saying that he's trying to end your career, or trying to give you a concussion or whatever. But between the knees and the neck, they're trying to take you out every time. That's just football. We play a violent game."
He added: "I am not condoning by any means any kind of a bounty structure. And I will clarify that there is a difference between pay for performance and pay for injury, and I'd say what we've been accused of in regards to pay for injury is not the case."
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