WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Davis Tull has a lot of catching up to do, although not from a mental standpoint.

Physically, Tull has to put in practice what he’s been learning in theory the past four months or so.

The fifth-round pick from Chattanooga has spent the summer rehabbing his shoulder after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum, but the rookie has been cleared to return to the practice field.

“I feel good on the playbook, but I need to get live reps,” Tull said. “Just being able to get out here in the walk-throughs and move around and do it, it helps a lot.”

Despite being back on the field, Tull still has to make do with limited reps in practice. Although he got some time in a goal-line scenario in Tuesday morning’s session, Tull is mostly being held out of full team work.

“We’re going to be smart so that he’s coming back gradually,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He is receiving practice snaps, but I think you have to be careful that he doesn’t get the full amount.”

Tull spent the summer working with the Saints’ trainers and strength and conditioning staff to stay in shape, but there’s a difference between what a player can do in the offseason and whta it takes on the field.

New Orleans has eased other players who opened the season battling injuries, like Marques Colston and Brian Dixon, back into practice for the same reason.

“It’s hard to get in football shape,” Tull said. “You can’t really run to get in football shape. You have to be in pads. I could tell today.”

Despite missing the first three weeks of training camp, Tull believes he’s got plenty of time to get in the mix as a strong-side linebacker and edge rusher, similar to the role fellow rookie Hau’oli Kikaha has played.

Three preseason games still remain for him to catch up.

“I think there’s plenty of time left,” Tull said. “Obviously, it’s been a jump, and it’s an adjustment from the NFL to college, but I think I’m up to the task.”