METAIRIE -- When Drew Brees was a kid, he used to watch the same VHS tape, "Golden Greats of Baseball," over and over again.

That's where Brees fell in love with Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams, who served as the inspiration for Brees to wear No. 9.

A pitcher, a towering figure to two generations of baseball-loving boys from Texas, also caught Brees' eye, and although he didn't end up following Nolan Ryan into the major leagues, Brees has picked Ryan's mind about the preparation and the routine that powered the fireballer's incredible longevity.

"If you look at his career and the way that he trained and the things he did to prepare himself to play with the longevity he played with and the level he played at, I just think there's a lot of things about his psyche, his mentality, his toughness, both physical and mental, that are to be admired," Brees said.

Ryan, one of the hardest throwers of a baseball that ever made it to the majors, pitched 27 years in the majors -- nearly all as a starter -- and kept his incredibly velocity all the way to the end.

The final fastball Ryan threw in the major leagues clocked 95 miles per hour.

For Brees, who has famously put an exacting, almost obsessive-compulsive routine together in order to prolong his career into his 40s, the routine a pitcher must perform in the four days between starts offered a lot of lessons.

Ryan seemed like the right brain to pick.

"He didn't stop pitching because he couldn't still throw strikes and get people out," Brees said. "He stopped pitching because it became more and more difficult to turn around every five days and pitch like those guys are required to do in a starting rotation."

By coincidence, Brees also relies on the same coach who helped prolong Ryan's career in Texas.

Brees has been working with Tom House for years, and then he found out that his throwing coach and his pitching hero's paths had crossed.

"Tom House was (Ryan's) pitching coach with the Texas Rangers," Drew Brees said. "There were a couple of guys on that staff that pitched well into their 40s, and I think a lot of those guys would credit Tom House for playing an instrumental role in that."

Beyond Ryan, House also worked with longtime Dodgers and Rangers pitcher Charlie Hough, who played until he was 46.

Now, as Brees approaches his 40s with an intent to keep playing as long as possible, he knows that he's working with a coach who has always been on the forefront of keeping a throwing arm working properly.

"He was doing a lot of things then that, I think, a lot of other people scratched their heads and wondered what it was," Brees said. "But at the end of the day, I think he was helping those guys maintain longevity, beat the aging process and still pitch at a high level in their 40s."

And although Brees grew up watching Ryan, House believes the pair share more in common than just their shared athletic pedigrees, Texan background and love of baseball.

In 2012, House told the Wall Street Journal that Ryan and Brees have the exact same throwing motion, with a tell-tale 30 degrees of separation in their hip and shoulder while throwing.

Maybe that's from Golden Greats of Baseball and the other VHS tapes Brees used to watch of Ryan teaching kids how to throw a four-seam fastball and a curveball.

Or maybe it's just the mark of two legendary throwers, both trying to push back time as long as possible.

Risk-reward of playing in preseason

Brees spends more time in a baseball cap on the sideline during the preseason than he does on the field.

New Orleans held Brees out of the preseason opener against Jacksonville, and the Saints will likely keep him out of the fourth preseason game as well, if history is any indicator.

Brees, who typically leaves his playing time in the preseason up to the coaching staff, understands why he's held out of some games, a practice that is common for most established quarterbacks around the NFL.

"It's risk-reward, right?" Brees said. "It's important for me to get some reps in the preseason, and it's really just a matter of how many. I feel like getting some work in the second preseason game and the third preseason game prepares me plenty for the regular season."

Brees did not play in the second preseason game last August, but that was an extenuating circumstance; the Saints held joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers, and the coaching staff felt he'd gotten enough work in practices.

New Orleans knows what Brees can do; figuring out what the rest of the quarterbacks are capable of doing is a bigger priority in an exhibition game.

"We've got a lot of other guys that we're trying to get work," Brees said. "It's good that Taysom Hill gets a lot of reps, right? It's good that Tom Savage gets familiarity and a comfort level with this offense and these guys; it's important that J.T. Barrett gets time."