FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Throughout training camp Tom Brady has insisted that the New England Patriots have a lot of work to do.

“You know, guys are working hard, we’re just trying to get things right,” he said earlier in the week when asked how practice was going. “We all have to be on the same page and a lot of communication and it’s not always right out there, so we’re trying to get it right.”

Good thing the Patriots have a month before they open the regular season.

It was pretty obvious Thursday night, in the Patriots opening preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, that Brady and the first unit still have a lot of work to do.

In his limited time (just two series), Brady completed four of seven passes for 30 yards. The offense sputtered because of penalties — although Brady was clearly frustrated with at least one of the calls, throwing his arms up in the air as he saw the penalty flag on the ground.

Tackle Nate Solder had two holding penalties called on him to disrupt the offense.

The line was missing two players who could be starters — Logan Mankins at left guard and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle. In addition, last year’s starting right guard, Brian Waters, has not reported to training camp, though he has not indicated that he has retired.

Running back Stevan Ridley showed some good spark, rushing for 40 yards on eight carries, but overall the unit had problems maintaining consistency.

The defense, meanwhile, played most of the first half as Coach Bill Belichick wanted to take long looks at his rookie first-rounders: end Chandler Jones from Syracuse and linebacker Dont’a Hightower from Alabama.

Both had their moments. Jones was especially effective in the second quarter, when he drew back-to-back holding penalties on Jermon Bushrod, a Pro Bowler last year. Then he caught quarterback Chase Daniel from behind to prevent a first down.

Hightower showed great instincts in getting to the hole.

The Patriots defense also had two interceptions deep in their own territory in the first half. Newcomer Steve Gregory had the first, on a pass that was originally deflected by linebacker Jerod Mayo, and Patrick Chung had the second.

NICE TOUCH by the Patriots before the game — they held a moment of silence for the late Junior Seau, who died earlier this year.

THINK THE Saints have a lot of respect for the Patriots?

Speaking to the media a couple of days ago (the teams held two joint practices leading into the game), Joe Vitt, filling in as head coach while Sean Payton serves a one-year suspension for his role in the Saints bounty scandal, had this to say:

“No. 1, I made this statement yesterday and Sean has made this statement, that this franchise that we’re going against is the Microsoft of our industry with what they’ve done. No. 2, in my era as a coach, Bill Belichick is the coach of my era. He’s the Don Shula, the Bill Walsh, of my era.”

SEEN IN the stands: Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who drew a huge cheer when his mug was shown on the video screen, and John Calipari, the University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach, who was in Bob Kraft’s booth.

THESE TWO teams opened the preseason at Gillette Stadium in 2010 as well. New England won that game 27-24 on a late Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH