Saints' Drew Brees on Patriots, Tom Brady: 'Iron sharpens iron'

Drew Brees and Tom Brady's friendship goes back to their college days, when Brees starred at Purdue and Brady at Michigan. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Drew Brees and Tom Brady chatted before and after practice Wednesday as the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots got together for their third series of joint training camp practices in the past six years.

The two Super Bowl MVPs and future Hall of Famers have known each other for 17 years now, Brees figured – dating back to when they played against each other in the Big Ten in the 1990s.

The conversations are now mostly about their kids and offseason travel plans. But Brees said the mentalities haven’t changed.

“I’m a big fan of Tom Brady as a player, and I really enjoy being around him as a person,” Brees said. “I know where his mind is at every year. It’s, ‘How do they get back to the Super Bowl?’ And ever since ’09, that’s been our focus as well.”

Brees mostly deflected the question, though, when asked if he can relate Brady dealing with the Deflategate suspension since the Saints went through Bountygate in 2012.

“Listen, it’s unfortunate, both of those situations,” Brees said. “I know this: All we can worry about is the opportunity we have to practice against these guys and get better as a team, and I know they’ve taken the same approach.”

Both quarterbacks looked pretty smooth in their first joint session Wednesday. They both threw TD passes in their two-minute simulations and their red-zone simulations – with Brees picking on Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler on one of his two TD throws to receiver Josh Morgan.

The Saints’ defense wasn’t too shabby, though. They didn’t give up too many deep balls, aside from two throws in the two-minute drill, including Brady’s gorgeous fade pass to Danny Amendola in the end zone. Defensive end Cameron Jordan particularly stood out with consistent pressure off the edge for at least one or two would-be sacks if live contact was allowed.

And as Saints coach Sean Payton promised and demanded – there were no fights that marred the action.

“Iron sharpens iron,” Brees said. “We had a chance to practice against the defending world champions, and I know that that’s gonna get us better, and I know they have the same mentality going against us.

“[It was good to face] a new defense, a new scheme, new personnel. So you’re kind of on high alert. It does kick it up a notch, just because you haven’t seen a lot of these looks in a long time and it’s kind of an ‘expect the unexpected’ mentality. I thought it was good work with those guys, thought both teams got a lot out of it.”

Patriots players also spoke highly of the competition on Day 1.

“We’re just coming out here to get the most we can out of this,” Patriots tight end Rob Gronkwoski said. “We’re going out, one-on-one, team, and just bringing it. They’re bringing it. And we’re getting a lot of competition out there, and it’s great for both teams.”