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Status check on Drew Brees, Saints receivers through Week 1

Drew Brees has had a solid, if unspectacular, start to his 15th NFL training camp.

I don't believe the New Orleans Saints quarterback has thrown a single interception yet in full-team drills over eight days of practice. And he was efficient in Friday's scrimmage, completing six of seven passes -- including a touchdown to Marques Colston -- in the only series he played against the second-string defense.

The only drawback is that Brees hasn't consistently hit on the deep ball -- though he hasn't really attempted many. The Saints didn't start installing their nickel and two-minute packages until later in the week. So we're still waiting for more of those "ooh" and "ahh" moments from receiver Brandin Cooks and runner/receiver C.J. Spiller, among others.

"I feel good," Brees said when asked for a self-review. "I feel like I'm on track with the things I'm wanting to accomplish in camp, all the things I'm focused on from an install standpoint to film study to mechanics to leadership elements with the team."

The downfield passing game is a huge point of emphasis for the Saints this year after it has emerged as one of the team's biggest deficiencies over the past two seasons.

I still don't see any noticeable issues of arm strength with the 36-year-old quarterback. Brees' zip on the out routes and quick slants looks about the same as it has in recent years. But the Saints need to keep working on everything from Brees' downfield accuracy to receivers getting separation to rhythm and timing to play design to pass protection.

As for who's catching those passes from Brees now that Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Pierre Thomas aren't around, it's been a pretty good mix of old favorites and young receivers.

Colston was his go-to guy in Friday's scrimmage, but Colston missed much of the first week of camp while nursing an injury.

Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson is probably the Saints' leading receiver in camp -- though second-year receiver Brandon Coleman was challenging him for that honor before Coleman missed the last few days of practice with an unspecified injury.

Another receiver who has repeatedly stood out is second-year pro Willie Snead, who spent part of last season on New Orleans' practice squad. Most of Snead's catches have come with the second- and third-string units, but he's mixed in with the starters at times.

Coach Sean Payton had lofty praise Thursday for Snead, saying he "knows what to do on every play."

"He lacks some top-end speed, and yet he has some uncover skills. He has real good football awareness," Payton said of the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder.

Snead was the first one Brees mentioned Friday when asked for other young receivers who have caught his eye beyond the more highly-touted Coleman and Seantavius Jones.

"Honestly all our young receivers have done some good things. Willie Snead has done some good things, Jalen Saunders has done some good things," Brees said. "We've got two veteran guys, Josh Morgan and Lance Lewis, those guys have done some good things. Joe Morgan, I think is kicking into another gear. Coming off that injury from a few years ago and kind of the road he's traveled, I think he's gained a lot of confidence.

"Every one of our guys has a great skill set. And I'd have a comfort level with all of them, I really would, because we've had that time on task."

At this stage, I'd rank the Saints wide receiver pecking order as Cooks, Colston, Coleman and Nick Toon ahead of Jones and the Morgans. But there's still plenty of time to jockey for position with the preseason opener scheduled for Thursday night at Baltimore.