WR expects productivity despite injury
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
METAIRIE — Saints wide receiver Marques Colston has never been to Hawaii.
His teammates would like to see him go the all-expenses-paid route, with what would be his first Pro Bowl selection. For that to happen, Colston probably will have to record the seventh 1,000-yard receiving season in his eight-year career, and do so while coming back from a foot injury that has sidelined him much of the preseason.
“He’s a guy that has had so much success and has ridden under the radar,” said fellow Saints receiver Lance Moore, who has been Colston’s teammate since Colston was taken out of Hofstra by New Orleans in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL draft.
“He’s just not one of the more flamboyant guys, but if you compare his stats to any of the other guys around the league over the last seven years, he’s right there in the top,” Moore added. “Hopefully we can get this guy to Hawaii.”
Colston appreciates the thought, but said he never has any specific goals in terms of yardage or Pro Bowls.
“I need another Super Bowl ring,” Colston said. “So more important to us is getting back on track in the wins and loss column.”
Colston played through pain in his left foot last season, when New Orleans, mired in the bounty scandal, went 7-9. He has missed more than a dozen days of practice since 2013 training camp opened in late July, and said he is “really trying to be cautious and take my time, knowing that we’ve got a long season to play.”
He added that he is “probably not” 100 percent at this point.
“That’s OK,” Colston continued. “I’m working towards it. I still have a couple of weeks yet.”
When asked if he might get into this Sunday’s preseason game in Houston, Colston said that was up to coaches, who have not said what their plans are for the franchise’s marquee receiver this weekend.
Colston, 30, has 7,394 yards receiving through his first seven seasons, which ranks ninth among all receivers during that span. Colston’s 58 TD catches is tied for second among all receivers since 2006, trailing only Larry Fitzgerald’s 59. The only time Colston had fewer than 1,000 yards receiving in a season was 2008, when he missed five games because of a hand injury and finished with 760 yards.
Colston is in the second year of a five-year, $40 million contract he negotiated in the winter of 2012, eschewing a chance to test free agency in his prime.
“When we did the research in preparation for his last contract, it became clear he is in the upper echelon statistically, and you can make a compelling argument that he is one of the best receivers in the league,” said Colston’s agent, Joel Segal.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Colston’s history of playing through pain leaves him optimistic about the slender, 6-foot-4 receiver’s productivity this season, whether he is fully healthy or not.
“He’s a tough guy. He’s battled through a lot throughout his career,” Brees said. “It seems like a guy who plays that big, that physical, gets the number of (snaps) that he does, takes the hits that he takes, you’re going to battle things, and some guys would shut it down. He’s never done that.
“I just want him to be pain-free and be able to do it without having to always battle through it, which is what he’s had to do in a lot of cases,” Brees continued. “I’m confident in his ability to come back and to be able to be there for us during the season and do everything he’s done in the past.”
Brees is among those who wished Colston got more recognition, but appreciates that the introverted receiver probably is happy the way thing are.
“That’s what sets him apart from most elite receivers. No. 1, he doesn’t need to let you know he’s good. He keeps his mouth shut for the most part and just plays,” Brees said. “He’s a fiery competitor and he’s willing to sacrifice for everyone and battle through whatever he needs to battle through in order to be out there for the guys and help the team win.”
As for Hawaii, Colston said, “I’ll get there — one day.”