Photos: Drew Brees, Tom Brady chat; Saints, Patriots face off in practice, sign autographs _lowres

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan tosses a ball during a joint practice between the Patriots and New Orleans Saints at the Saint's NFL football training camp in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Notes and observations from Thursday’s practice between the Saints and Patriots (as always, a tip of the hat to Joel A. Erickson for helping chart everything):

RECEIVER ROTATION: The Saints once again kept a pretty tight receiver rotation and things remained the same as yesterday. Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston and Brandon Coleman remained at the top, but this time Josh Morgan was rotating in most often. Both Joe Morgan and Josh Morgan received snaps with the second team. Seantavius Jones, Nick Toon and Willie Snead received a good amount of snaps with that group.

BARNES MOVES UP: Tavaris Barnes is on the rise. With Akiem Hicks sidelined with an injury, the undrafted rookie out of Clemson received some first-team reps on Thursday. Barnes had a strong game against the Ravens and his power as a pass rusher has been on display throughout camp. Typically, when there have been injuries, Bobby Richardson has received first-team reps.

OFFENSIVE LINE LOOKS STRONG: Brees didn’t face much pressure during Thursday’s session and typically had however long he wanted to take to get rid of the ball. He typically gets rid of the ball in around 2.7 seconds. During one play, he stood in the pocket for 4.81 seconds before being flushed out. Strong day for the offensive line.

GRONK AN ISSUE: We talked about how good of a job the Saints defense did on Rob Gronkowski during Wednesday’s practice. The story changed today. The Patriots tight end made seven catches and made victims of just about everyone on defense. He beat the linebackers, safeties, and even cornerbacks Terrence Frederick and Stanley-Jean Baptiste. On one play, he smoked Jean-Baptiste off the line for an easy reception. Still, it’s too soon to consider this a concern. The top five defensive backs were not on the field and it’s doubtful David Hawthorne would be covering Gronkowski by himself in an actual game.

GOOD DAY FOR TULL: Davis Tull returned from practice earlier this week and the fifth-round pick has put together a few solid moments. He had two on Thursday. The first day came when he beat Cameron Fleming in a one-on-one drill for an easy victory. He built on it later in the practice by picking up a sack on Ryan Lindley.

SNEAD STEPS UP: In my recent 53-man roster projection, I wrote that Willie Snead needed to light up practices and games to make the team. He lit up Thursday’s session. The wide receiver made a nice one-handed grab late in practice, and then pulled in a fade route for a touchdown. The race for receiver is tight. Snead could force his way in if he builds on this momentum.

LACK OF PASS RUSH: Tom Brady was able to sick back and pick apart the defense on Thursday. After picking up four sacks during Wednesday’s session, the Saints did not appear to reach Brady once. One issue is that the quarterback got rid of the ball in 2.75 seconds or less on all but three of his passes. But still, the defense could have done a better job of making him feel uncomfortable.

Brees passing

1. Complete to Austin Johnson (bootleg)

2. Complete to Ben Watson (back shoulder, Patrick Chung, 2.34 to throw)

3. Complete to Brandin Cooks (in route, Devin McCourty, 3.56 to throw)

4. Incomplete to Marques Colston (2.41)

5. Complete to Khiry Robinson (screen, 2.85)

6. Incomplete to Marques Colston (broken up by Malcolm Butler, 1.38)

7. Complete to Brandon Cooks (short, 2.70)

8. Complete to Mark Ingram (slant, 1.81)

9. Incomplete (flushed from pocket, 4.81)

10. Complete to Brandon Coleman (2.94, Jordan Richards sack)

Griffin passing

1. Complete to Brandin Cooks (go route, Bradley Fletcher, 4.75 to throw)

2.Complete to Josh Morgan (bobbled, hitch, Bradley Fletcher, 3.22)

3. Incomplete to Nick Toon (dropped, 1.60, Bradley Fletcher)

4.Incomplete to Joe Morgan (dropped, 1.53)

5. Complete to Josh Morgan (2.34)

6. Complete to Nick Toon (2.06)

7. Complete to Nick Toon (2.97)

Grayson passing

1. Complete to Alex Smith (checkdown to short middle)

2. Incomplete to Seantavius Jones (flushed from pocket, thrown at Jones’ feet)

3. Interception by Daxton Swanson on deep ball to Jalen Saunders, Swanson jumped over Saunders

4. Complete to Seantavius Jones (deep out)

5. Sack

6. Complete to Willie Snead IV (flag route to sideline, Snead with one-handed grab in traffic)

7. Complete to Marcus Murphy

8. Complete to Willie Snead IV (fade, Snead out-jumps corner for another nice grab)

Brady passing

1. Complete (Stanely Jean-Baptiste coverage)

2. Complete to Michael Hoomanawanui (Kasim Edebali, 2.72 to throw)

3. Incomplete to Rob Gronkowski (dropped, Kenny Phillips, 1.71)

4. Incomplete to Rob Gronkowski (dropped, David Hawthorne, 2.72)

5. Complete to Matthew Slater (Travis Manning, 3.31)

6. Complete to Josh Boyce (Brian Dixon, 1.81)

7. Complete to Jonathan Krause (Damian Swann. 1.78 to throw)

8. Complete to Rob Gronkowski (Rafael Bush, 2.72)

9. Complete to Rob Gronkowski (2.43 to throw)

10. Complete to Chris Harper (Kyle Wilson, 2.88)

11. Complete

12. Complete to Zach D’Orazio (Hawthorne blitz, 0.94)

13. Complete to Rob Gronkowski (Stanley Jean-Baptiste, 1.72)

14. Complete (David Hawthorne, 4.57)

15. Complete to Danny Amendola (Pierre Warren, 2.03)

16. Complete to Rob Gronkowski (Terrence Frederick, 2.18)

17. Complete to Rob Gronkowski (David Hawthorne, 2.75)

18. Complete to Danny Amendola

Lindley passing

1. Complete

2. Complete

3. Davis Tull sack

4. Complete

5. Complete

6. Incomplete (broken up by Travis Manning)


Offensive line

Zach Strief 2-1

Jahri Evans 2-1

Max Unger 3-0

Tim Lelito 2-1

Terron Armstead 3-0

Andrus Peat 2-1

Sean Hickey 3-2

Senio Kelemete 1-1

Mike McGlynn 1-1

Bryce Harris 0-2

Antonio Johnson 2-0

Cole Manhart 1-1

Mike Golic Jr. 2-0

Nick Becton 1-1

Defensive line

Bobby Richardson 0-1

John Jenkins 1-1

Kevin Williams 0-1

Cam Jordan 0-2

Davis Tull 1-1

Tyeler Davison 2-0

Tavaris Barnes 2-0-1

Hau’oli Kikaha 0-2

Kaleb Eulls 2-0

Ahaad Mabry 1-0

Parys Haralson 0-1

David Hunter 2-0

Markus Pierce-Brewster 0-1