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Analysis

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

Marques Colston quickly changed from his game uniform into his street clothes late Sunday night and slipped out of the Saints locker room before anyone could stop him.

Yes, even reporters have a hard time corralling the quiet and humble receiver.

If not for teammates, Colston could almost be described as a myth. You see what he does but don't really know if it's real because you never hear from him.

In six of Colston's previous seven seasons, he has quietly surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, even eclipsing the 1,100 mark in three of those seasons. He has caught a franchise-record 62 touchdown passes, all from quarterback Drew Brees (seventh-best combination in NFL history).

And yet he has no Pro Bowls, no All-Pro honors and really no accolades that would show that he's a top-notch receiver.

The eighth-year receiver's numbers speak loudly enough for him, including his game-defining 125 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches in New Orleans' pivotal NFC South clash with Carolina.

Colston once again was clutch in not just getting the offense going against one of the league's best defenses, but keeping the momentum going.

When Brees absolutely had to have a completion on third-and-nine on New Orleans' second series, he went to Colston.

Colston lined up as the far left receiver, set just behind Kenny Stills. He took a straight release, quickly planted to his right then planted back to his left, going right past Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn. The route was nearly perfect and he ran open, giving Brees an easy target and an easy completion for the Saints' first third-down conversion of the game.

'It is a rhythm game and when you get that first first down the jive kind of gets going,' Saints center Brian de la Puente said. 'You get in a rhythm. You kind of get things rolling.'

They did get rolling and the only thing that stopped them at that point was halftime. And more than a quarter of Brees' completions and a third of his passing yards in the second quarter were passes to Colston.

His teammates know his value, that's for sure.

'He's always been Drew's guy,' said safety Roman Harper, who has been Colston's teammates for all eight years. 'People want to start looking at Jimmy, look at Jimmy and the next thing you know you almost forget about Marques Colston. He's not talking. He's not doing a lot of things to make noise or anything.'

In other words, if not for other people, you wouldn't know that Colston went over 8,000 career receiving yards with a 21-yard catch in the first quarter. He's the first Saints player ever to do so and only the 87th NFL player to ever do it.

'I think at times the way we utilize receivers doesn't help in regards to postseason accolades, but I am glad we have him,' Saints Coach Sean Payton said.

While Colston's consistency stands out he has missed only 11 out of a possible 125 games it has been his adaptability that makes him hard to cover.

He's as good at catching the back-shoulder throw as any player and can contort his body just right to catch a pass where Brees makes it nearly impossible for anyone other than his receiver to grab.

Colston certainly hasn't had his greatest season. He's 11 yards below his career per-game average and his four touchdown catches are his fewest since 2008 when he finished with five.

But he appears to be hitting his stride.

'His numbers were kind of low early and you could definitely sense his frustration because he has always been the guy,' Harper said. 'Whether he tells you or not, he wants the ball all the time. He wants to make the catches. He wants to be the guy. And all he does it make big plays for us and I've seen it for eight years now and it just seems like nothing has changed.'

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