Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews examined the MRI scans for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and confirmed the original diagnosis: that Brees has a bruised rotator cuff but there is no indication of a tear, a source told ESPN's Ed Werder.
As a result, Brees said there is a "reasonable possibility'' he can play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, according to the source, but a determination for his availability for practice and the game will be determined as the week evolves.
Andrews told Brees his rehab program this week is critical to making a quick and complete recovery, the source said. Andrews also compared the MRI performed Monday to the one Brees had at the end of last season. Brees ended up playing through that shoulder injury.
Andrews was the surgeon who performed major reconstructive shoulder surgery on Brees in the offseason before the quarterback signed with the Saints in 2006.
Brees, 36, hasn't missed a game because of injury since then. In fact, the only time he has missed a game because of injury in his 15-year career was for that 2005 shoulder injury, which occurred in Week 17 when he was with the San Diego Chargers.
But the Saints, who are already stuck in an 0-2 hole to start this season, will have to prepare for that possibility for the first time this week.
Veteran Luke McCown, 34, is Brees' backup. McCown has only thrown one snap in his two-plus years with the Saints -- on an ill-fated fake field-goal attempt in 2013. And he hasn't played extensively in a game since 2011 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But McCown has started nine games over an NFL career spent with five different teams.
Even if Brees plays, the Saints will have to prepare for the possibility that his shoulder won't be at full strength. Brees admitted that his deep throws were affected by the injury in last Sunday's 26-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brees continued to play the rest of the game after taking a direct hit on the shoulder while he was cocked back to throw in the second quarter. He threw an interception on an underthrown deep ball in the third quarter.
Saints coach Sean Payton said Monday that it was too early in the week to decide whether Brees would be able to play and that the team will know more on Wednesday, which is the first practice day of the week. It remains to be seen whether Brees will be able to practice.
"He's someone, you know as well as anyone, he's gonna be a competitor. He's gonna be smart about it as well. But I think we'll have a better idea come Wednesday," Payton said Monday night on the WWL Radio coaches show.
"It's not gonna be something where it's long-term. I think both he and the doctors are all optimistic," Payton added. "A lot of it is gonna be on the treatment and his ability to come back and really feel like he's got the strength he needs."
Brees, who is scheduled to speak to the media Wednesday for the first time this week, expressed confidence when he last spoke on Sunday night that he would be OK.
"That's the season. Everybody's dealing with something," Brees said Sunday night. "Just gotta get a little stronger, that's all."
Information from ESPN's Ed Werder was used in this report.