METAIRIE, La. (AP) -Drew Brees doesn't seem very impressed with himself.
If it's not an act, then he's in the minority after completing nearly 90 percent of his passes (35 of 39) during the past three preseason games.
``I can tell you about every one of those four incompletions that should be complete,'' Brees said. ``I think there's always room to improve.''
For now, Brees will have to wait until the regular season opener Sept. 6 at Indianapolis to see if he can do even better. Head coach Sean Payton said on Monday that he will sit Brees out during the Saints' final preseason game at home against Miami this Thursday night.
But based on Brees' recent performances, he already appears to be as sharp, if not more so, than last season, when he led the NFL in passing by connecting on 356 of 554 passes (64.3 percent) for 4,418 yards and 26 touchdowns.
In two series against Buffalo on Aug. 10, he was 12-of-14 for 118 yards. The following week at Cincinnati, he played only one series, but hit all six of his throws for 55 yards. Then last Thursday at Kansas City, he was 17-of-19 for 182 yards and a touchdown.
If that wasn't impressive enough, the Saints' top two receivers - Marques Colston (knee) and Devery Henderson (hamstring) - both sat out the past two games with minor injuries.
Receiver David Patten said Brees does not have a go-to guy. Rather, he spends practices cultivating as many options as he can find within Payton's versatile offense, then throws to whomever is open.
Against Kansas City, Brees spread completions among three different wide receivers, a tight end, two running backs and a fullback.
Such balanced distribution of the ball and passing efficiency reminded Patten of another quarterback he played with: New England's Tom Brady.
``The only thing separating them is the rings,'' Patten said. ``The work ethic, attitude, leadership skills. I'll tell you what, man, they're not far apart.
``A receiver is sometimes going to make a quarterback look good, but for the most part, nine times out of 10, it's the quarterback making the receiver look good,'' Patten continued. ``So you have a quarterback as good as Drew, and a receiver knowing that the ball's going to be in the right spot away from the defender - it just gives you that much more confidence as a receiver so you can put moves on defensive backs and things like that.''
An important similarity to Brady, Patten said, is Brees' ability to make players across the offense, from starters to reserves, feel involved and important.
``With all the success that he's had, he could be lifted up and think that it's all about him, but if you have a chance to visit with him, you will know that's far from his mentality,'' Patten said.
A remarkable aspect of Brees' performance in 2006 was that it came one season after a throwing-shoulder injury forced him to have complicated surgery and go through months of rehabilitation that extended all the way into training camp.
This year, Brees arrived at training camp saying he felt stronger than ever, and it has shown in recent preseason games and during practice.
Saints safety Roman Harper said it can be discouraging when Brees, during two-minute drills, picks apart the Saints' secondary and leads the offense to a score in about 45 seconds.
Then Saints defenders watch him move the ball on other teams, ``and that just puts it in reality for us that we're really not as bad as we think sometimes.''
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