Receiver Colston has proven to be a keeper for New Orleans Saints
Thursday, January 21, 2010
METAIRIE, La. -- Marques Colston goes about his business as quietly as when he was a little-known seventh-round pick in the 2006 draft.
He rarely celebrates after a touchdown, covets his privacy off the field and generally avoids appearing in commercials or doing anything else that might help him capitalize on his growing fame.
"It fits his personality," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "He's a quiet guy, but there's nobody who works harder or is more committed and I think our relationship is one that we're very much on the same page. I have so much confidence in the guy on the practice field and on game day, I know what I'm going to get out of him every time."
On the field, the Saints' 6-foot-4 receiver has been hard to miss for most of the last four seasons since he emerged from relative obscurity as a last-round draft choice out of Hofstra.
His six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in New Orleans' playoff victory over Arizona last weekend marked only the latest strong performance in another successful season.
Colston is the only Saints player in the last four years to have more than 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. He has done it three times, coming up short only in 2008, when he missed five games with a broken thumb.
"My main objective coming into the year was to stay healthy and I played every game this year, started every game. I really can't ask for much more," Colston said. "I feel like statistically I played well. At this point I'm still not really satisfied without ending up in Miami, so that's kind of where the goals have shifted."
The Saints need one more victory Sunday in the NFC title game against the Minnesota Vikings to end up in Miami for what would be New Orleans' first Super Bowl.
The Saints were this close once before, in Colston's rookie season, but lost in Chicago in a game that was a mixed bag for Colston, who had a touchdown catch but also fumbled.
"This is my fourth year in the league now and I just kind of realize how special it is to get to this point in the season and just the opportunity you really want to take advantage of," Colston said.
Brees was among the first to recognize and praise Colston's combination of size, grace and good hands back in training camp of 2006. The pair have spent long hours working together after practices and even last offseason in southern California.
Brees has said there are places he can throw the ball where only Colston can catch it. He did so twice last Saturday, helping the Saints overcome a pair of penalties that had turned a first-and-goal from the 2 into a first-and-goal from the 17. Brees made a back-shoulder pass to Colston along the sideline on the next play that moved New Orleans back to the 2. Brees then went right back to Colston along the same sideline for a touchdown.
"He continues to get better every year," Brees said. "His confidence level just continues to grow and he just matures as a veteran receiver. He's not a first- or second-year guy anymore. It's his fourth year and I think he's in a zone."
It seems the only thing that has been able to limit Colston is his health. After his thumb injury, he also has had microfracture surgery right after the 2008 season to close a small hole in his kneecap.
While rehabilitating in Los Angeles, he aggressively sought out advice on techniques to limit the potential for future injuries. He started going to a chiropractor three times a week and regularly sees deep-tissue masseuse. He's considering taking up yoga or a similar pursuit next offseason.
Having played in college for a Football Championship Subdivision program that his alma mater recently decided to disband, and having been one of the last of his draft class to be picked, Colston has been widely viewed as a steal and one of the better draft choices the Saints have ever made.
Colston has established himself as the unquestioned leader of the Saints' receiving corps, but deflects at least some of the credit away from himself. He gives high praise to Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson for refining his technique and to Brees, both for being one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the game and for having the confidence to throw to him.
"I really see it as a blessing to be able to come into an offense and just have the ability to put up the kind of numbers that we do as a group and also individually," Colston said. "It eases your job just knowing that if you do what's expected of you, the quarterback's going to get you the ball."