For the better part of a month now, injured veteran Marques Colston unwittingly has taken on the role of a player/coach in training camp, sharing his knowledge with some of the younger wide receivers on the New Orleans Saints roster.
On Monday, Colston donned full pads and his familiar No. 12 jersey and participated in a rare workout, a sign that he perhaps might play against the Houston Texans (2-0) on a national stage Sunday afternoon at Reliant Stadium.
Colston opened training camp on active/PUP because of an injured left foot. He worked on a limited basis in several practices last week. He was not available for comment after practice Monday.
“He’s a guy I’m not worried about not practicing,’’ veteran Saints wide receiver Lance Moore said. “We just want him to be ready when it’s time to go for real. Whether that means playing this week and next week, whether that means not playing at all, doesn’t matter to me, as long as he’s ready to go in Week 1 (against Atlanta, Sept. 8).
“He is a guy who has played through so many injuries and ailments through his career, I feel like this is something that he’ll be able to ride with.’’
Saints right tackle Zach Strief echoed Moore’s analysis.
“Marques has been awfully consistent for seven years,’’ Strief said. “We know and the coaches know what w’re going to get from him on the field when he’s healthy.’’
Despite battling numerous injuries throughout his first seven seasons, the 30-year-old Colston has persevered to lead the club in receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns with 58.
In order to help keep Colston healthy and possibly extend his career, Saints coach Sean Payton indicated Monday that Colston’s practice participation will be closely monitored throughout the season.
“He would be one of three or four guys where we’d have to look at, either Wednesday or Thursday, of just not overdoing it and being smart,’’ Payton said.
Although Colston has not practiced often in camp, he has helped Saints rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills in his transition from college football to the NFL.
“I love having him out here,’’ said Stills, the team’s fifth-round draft pick from Oklahoma. “He’s been a little banged up but he’s kind of been like ‘Coach Colston’ out here and has helped us out a lot.
“Watching him when I was in college and younger, I know the kind of stats he’s put up and the confidence that the coaches and teammates have in him. I know he’s done great things here. If I can just do some of the things he’s done in his career, then I’ll be headed in the right direction.’’
Roster moves (subhed)
The Saints trimmed their training camp roster to 80 on Monday with nine moves, including the release of three veterans — quarterback Seneca Wallace and wide receivers Patrick Crayton and Steve Breaston.
The team also placed veteran defensive end Kenyon Coleman (torn pectoral muscle) on injured reserve and waived defensive backs A.J. Davis (injured) and Dion Turner, linebacker Chase Thomas, wide receiver Jarred Fayson and guard Ricky Henry.
Two injured players continue to count against the roster, though their seasons are in jeopardy after undergoing knee surgery. Outside linebacker Victor Butler (knee) is on PUP and wide receiver Joseph Morgan (knee) is on active/PUP. A player can’t be placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list until after 3 p.m. Sept. 3.
“We just haven’t had to make a decision yet (on Butler and Morgan) because of the numbers,’’ Payton said. “We’ll just continue to wait.’’
Teams must pare their rosters to 75 by Aug. 27 and 53 by Aug. 31.
ILB Jonathan Vilma (knee), ILB Chris Chamberlain (knee) and OLB Junior Galette (knee) did not practice Monday.
The Saints are scheduled to work from 8:50 a.m. till 11:20 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday before departing for Houston on Saturday. All practices now are closed to the public.