Brees ready to put long weekend behind him

Drew Brees had five days to ponder the Saints' 41-10 loss to the Colts before he went back to work to prepare for Tampa Bay. Now the QB has to help the Saints bounce back this weekend against the Buccaneers to avoid a 0-2 start.

Drew Brees called last weekend "the longest weekend of his life."

Thanks to opening the season on a Thursday — and the Saints' 41-10 loss to Indianapolis — Brees spent all weekend watching football, but thinking about these numbers:

A 58.2 quarterback rating.

Two interceptions.

An average of 4.68 yards per attempt.

And all this came as he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes.

"The good thing about losing on Sunday is that you are able to come back and regroup, come back to practice two days later, make the corrections, forget about it and move on, whereas this time it was five days," Brees said. "That will eat at you a little bit.

"It took me a while to get over that one."

Brees and the offense started off well against the Colts. But as the first half ended the Saints were experiencing similar problems as the Buccaneers did in Seattle — an inability to punch the ball in the end zone.

New Orleans' only touchdown came on defense, a Jason David fumble return.

As the second half opened, the Colts had clearly taken over the game, most notably limiting New Orleans' downfield passing attack to dinks and dunks under the Colts' Cover 2 defense.

That's not encouraging, as the Bucs play the same defense.

"Anytime a team has success against you, you expect the next week's opponent to take some of those things and apply it to your defense as a way to maybe stop you," Brees said.

The Saints are coming of an incredible season in 2006 in which they won the NFC South and reached the NFC Championship game for the first time.

Brees was a big part of that resurrection, throwing for 4,418 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden knows one bad game doesn't make Brees any less dangerous.

"Just a simple check-down can become a 25-yard gain with these guys," Gruden said. "They are very explosive and Drew knows a lot about what to do with the ball. He's got a creative game and he's a very heady player, a great competitor. We've got to get to him."

But the departure of Joe Horn to Atlanta leaves Brees with one of the youngest receiving corps in the NFL. Colston is in his second season. Devery Henderson is in his fourth year, along with Terrance Copper.

Colston had six catches last week for 47 yards, but new tight end Eric Johnson led the Saints with eight catches for 57 yards. The vertical passing game that marked the Saints' success last year never materialized against the Colts.

Brees has confidence in his young group of receivers and their ability to help the Saints offense bounce back this weekend.

"I think he looks better than ever," Brees said of Colston. "Henderson is coming off a solid season and he earned a starting position. Copper started last year for Joe Horn. I like the group that we have. We have guys that can step in and do the job if one goes down. We rotate them in such a way that they can all produce."

Saints primer

Three things to watch on Sunday

The pass rush: Will Smith is coming off a Pro Bowl and Charles Grant has a fat contract. There's a reason why, and the Bucs hope Jeff Garcia doesn't find out on Sunday.

The tandem backfield: Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister are perfect complements to one another. What's worse for opposing defenses is that they never seem to get tired. And Bush burned these Bucs last year in the Bayou on a punt return.

The desperation: The Saints are the defending NFC South champs, a title that hasn't fared well for the previous defenders. New Orleans does not want to come out of the game 0-2.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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