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Eagles Notebook: Saints' Brees on his homeboy Foles

Drew Brees has been aware of the QB who broke his high school records, and holds Nick Foles in high regard.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Matt Rourke/AP)Read more

DREW BREES doesn't really know Nick Foles very well, Brees told a conference call with Philadelphia-area reporters yesterday, but "I've followed him from afar, just because, you know, he was breaking all my records" at Westlake High in Austin, Texas.

Brees, whose New Orleans Saints visit the Eagles on Saturday night in an NFC wild-card playoff game, first said he never saw Foles play at Westlake, then recalled, in the middle of his answer, that he'd gone back for a 10th reunion of his 1996 state championship team. Was Foles the Westlake QB in 2006, he wondered? Yes, reporters affirmed. So Brees concluded he had seen Foles play in high school, whether he remembered seeing him or not.

"I've been really impressed with what he's accomplished so far in the NFL," said Brees, who noted that though Westlake has produced a handful of NFL players over the years, and takes pride in a successful program, it isn't a huge football factory.

Brees called Foles' 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions this season "amazing . . . extremely impressive. Those are pretty unprecedented numbers, especially for a guy who's in his first year as a starter. I'm very happy for his success. Not just the fact that we're from the same high school and I kind of know the road he's traveled, but he seems like a tremendous young man. I don't know him that well; I've only met him on one or two occasions . . . you can see by the way he plays, he's mature beyond his years."

When Foles talked to reporters Tuesday, he said he has always looked up to Brees. Foles had hoped to duplicate Brees' state-championship accomplishment but lost in the 2006 title game.

"When he's out there, he's a warrior," Foles said. "There aren't many guys who can make the throws that he makes. You can just tell that there is an intensity when he plays the game. He has great intensity, and he's an underrated athlete. He's a tremendous athlete . . . I've always looked up to him as a leader. I think he's a great guy and a great quarterback, but on and off the field he's the same guy, and I respect that about him."

Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis talked this week about the relationship between Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton, who have been together since 2006, and how that helps the Saints.

"I think him and Drew are really one and the same person. They have worked so much together . . . no matter what is in Sean's head, Drew can execute it, and that's the key to great offensive football, when the quarterback has the same understanding as the offensive coordinator, or the head coach, in this case," Davis said. "Then they play very efficiently, and that's what this team does."

Brees said yesterday that he still feels a great debt to Payton for bringing him to New Orleans, when he was coming off shoulder surgery and some teams were leery.

"Sean gave me a lot of input very early on into the offense," Brees said. "He wanted to make sure that everything in this offense was things that I was comfortable with and was good at. And he also exposed me to a lot of things I hadn't done before . . . I found a lot of those things were working toward my strengths. It's been huge to have the same head coach, the same play-caller, the same offense . . . we've evolved, but I feel we've always been very much on the same page. Obviously, we've had a lot of time on task together; this is our eighth year together."

Head games

One of the more memorable plays of Sunday night's division-title-clinching Eagles victory over the Cowboys came when Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, while being tackled, basically head-butted Eagles nose tackle Damion Square in the chest, knocking Square down.

Theoretically, the NFL passed a rule last offseason against ballcarriers lowering their helmets and intentionally striking blows, but it's unclear whether this penalty has ever been called. It certainly wasn't Sunday night, much to the delight of the AT&T Stadium crowd.

"I didn't think I was going to be in front of him. I thought I was going to jump on his back," Square said. "He kind of got into an area where he couldn't go anywhere. He was just going to give it to somebody, and I happened to be that guy."

What did that feel like?

"It felt like football," Square said.

Did you get him back?

"Not like I wanted to. I got him back with that 'W,' though."