- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are a few observations:
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was sharper in his second practice against the Saints. Brady missed several throws he usually makes on Tuesday but made up for it Wednesday. Brady began 7 on 7 drills by throwing back-to-back touchdown passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker in the red zone. Brady didn't throw as much on Wednesday but looked better in limited reps.
The more I see Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, the more I like him. Graham made a couple of really nice catches against the Patriots’ first-team defense in team drills. One was a spectacular catch down the seam from Saints quarterback Drew Brees where Graham jumped over New England rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Graham has gotten the best of Hightower in the joint practices this week. It's been a good learning experience for the rookie linebacker to face one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
Speaking of rookies, both Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones continue to get reps with the first team this week. That probably will continue in Thursday’s preseason opener. Both rookies are flashing their athleticism and have a chance to carve out a solid role in New England’s defense early.
The impressive play of the day came from Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. In team drills Hoyer connected on a beautiful deep pass to a leaping backup receiver Jesse Holley in team drills. The play got one of the loudest cheers from the fans.
Overall, it was a much lighter practice Wednesday. Both teams got in some good team work before tomorrow’s preseason game. The Saints and Patriots had a joint agreement not to go too hard before their exhibition.