Brees has bruise on right knee, practiced fully on Thursday after being limited on Christmas, Payton says

FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans. Brees has agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract with the Saints, with $60 million guaranteed, on Friday, July 13, 2012, a person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has a bruise on his right knee; but while it limited him in practice Wednesday, it didn’t prevent him from working fully on Thursday, coach Sean Payton said.

Brees has been sacked a career-high 36 times, and the Saints (10-5) caused much anxiety in and around New Orleans when they listed him on the injury report on Christmas for the first time this season. He is 219 passing yards away from getting the fourth 5,000-yard season in his career, and he’s thrown 35 TDs.

But on Thursday, coach Sean Payton said “you wouldn’t have noticed” anything was wrong with the QB’s knee.

“It really is just that — he had a right knee bruise,” Payton remarked. “There’s nothing more to it than that. And yet, we thought it was best we limited the amount of snaps he’s getting.”

Other Saints who were listed on Thursday’s injury report but fully practiced: TE Josh Hill (hamstring), RB Pierre Thomas (eye), OLB/DE Keyunta Dawson (calf), LB Kevin Reddick (shoulder), WR Marques Colston (back) and G Jahri Evans (knee).

The Saints host Tampa Bay (4-11) on Sunday. They can win the NFC South with a win and a loss by Carolina (11-4) at Atlanta (4-11).

WILLIAMS JOINS BEARS: WR/KR Chris Williams left the Saints practice squad on Wednesday to join the Chicago Bears, the NFL transaction wire revealed on Thursday.

Williams, a star in the Canadian Football League, signed with the Saints’ practice squad in October. His new team (8-7) will win the NFC North if it can beat the visiting Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) on Sunday.

Free-agent rookie receiver Charles Hawkins, a New Orleans native who went to St. Augustine and attended Southern, replaced Williams’ on the Saints’ practice squad.

The Advocate will have more from the Saints‘ facility later.