New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been declared out for Sunday's game against the host Carolina Panthers, according to Saints coach Sean Payton. Luke McCown will start in his place.

"Drew Brees will be out for this game. He'll travel, and I think just where he's at in the rehab and his strength, that he felt, and we all felt like it would be too early for him to play this weekend," Payton said. "I would say next week we'll continue the process, and without trying to make an estimation about his return, we felt like he made progress without the week, and yet he's not where he needs to be or where we feel comfortable with the strength that he needs...

"But he did get better each day and we'll just see where he's at next week."

Payton said it wasn't a difficult decision to make, although Brees has never missed a Saints start because of an injury.

"We talked this morning and I think he felt that it was the best thing. I don't think it was a difficult decision today, I think it was actually the opposite for where he's at," Payton said. "His focus and preparation throughout the week was very much like he was starting."