Brian Allee-Walsh

Marques Colston's future with Saints is murky at best

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) runs against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) runs against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) AP

NEW ORLEANS

Stay down, Marques, stay down.

I uttered those words when New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston got his right shoulder buried in the ground by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell at the end of a 17-yard reception in the third quarter of Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field.

The catch came on third-and-10 from the Eagles 27 and ultimately led to a tying 21-yard field goal by kicker Zach Hocker with 11:12 remaining in the third.

It represented one of the few bright spots for the Saints in the second half of a coyote ugly 39-17 blowout loss.

Now the 1-4 Saints head into Thursday night's nationally-televised game against the undefeated and NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a game in which the home team has been installed as a slight underdog.

The Saints will be without the 32-year-old Colston who reportedly suffered a separated shoulder and possible structural damage and is expected to miss an indefinite period of time, according to NFL Network.

Whether this is the last we see of Colston in the Black and Gold is anyone's guess. He is one of four remaining players from coach Sean Payton's first team in the Big Easy in 2006, along with quarterback Drew Brees and offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Zach Strief.

Brees arrived in New Orleans via free agency. Evans (D4b), Strief (D7a) and Colston (D7b) represent three of Payton's most productive draft picks, none more so than Colston who holds franchise records for receptions (684), receiving yards (9,439) and touchdowns (68).

Those numbers include the three catches for 36 yards against the Eagles, one for 8 yards coming after he initially injured his right shoulder.

From my vantage point, Colston had no business remaining in the game. It was painfully obvious even to those watching on TV that something was wrong with his right shoulder. On the play in question, a teammate reached out to help him up. Colston extended his left arm only because he could not raise his right arm. He held his right arm at his side as he walked to the huddle and when lined up for the next play.

He came in briefly later in the quarter, then went to the locker room for X-rays in the fourth quarter.

And now we understand he may require surgery ... possibly season-ending surgery ... possibly career-ending surgery. We await official word.

That said, Colston's future in New Orleans could very well be determined by the severity of the injury and the subsequent prognosis. He is in the fourth year of a five-year, $36.3 million contract. He counts $6.5 million against the cap this season, $5.9 million next season.

And truth be told, his skills are diminishing. He is a declining athlete. That is not meant as a knock against Colston, who has delivered more bang for his bucks as the 252nd overall pick in the 2006 draft than anyone could ever imagine. It happens to all athletes.

But even in decline (18 catches, 200 yards, no TDs this season), Colston remains a warrior, quiet, unassuming and humble in every sense of those words. Unlike many of the current and past NFL wide receiver divas, Colston shys away from publicity. He abhors the spotlight. His performance does all the neceesary talking for him.

But as good a player as Colston is, he is a better human being, a class act, a true gentleman.

I wanted him to stay down.

But deep down, I knew Marques Colston would get up because he's a stand-up guy.

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