Colston remains quiet as he approaches another Saints record

Associated Press photo by Bill FeigSaints receiver Marques Colston runs after a catch against the Dolphins last month. Show caption
Associated Press photo by Bill FeigSaints receiver Marques Colston runs after a catch against the Dolphins last month.

Marques Colston emerged from the New Orleans Saints’ off week in a peculiar place.

The veteran wideout is merely 137 yards away from setting yet another franchise record, this one for receiving yardage. He also just had the least productive two-game stretch of his eight years with the Saints and in the NFL after tallying a total of 26 yards on three catches in a win at Chicago on Oct. 6 and a loss at New England on Oct. 13.

But doing justice to the first half of his nickname “Quiet Storm,” Colston hasn’t gotten worked up about either situation.

He politely declined Wednesday to discuss what, if anything, surpassing former Saints wideout Eric Martin’s 7,854 career receiving yards would mean to him.

Colston’s younger teammates said he’s teaching them to be better professionals by dealing with his momentary decline in productivity in a manner No. 1 wide receivers elsewhere in the NFL might have difficulty replicating.

“I never hear him ... say anything negative,” rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “It rubs off on me and the rest of the group knowing that, as long as we’re winning, things are great (with Colston).”

To be sure, Colston has done his part to help the Saints start their season 5-1. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees in Week 1 against Atlanta which, after an extra point, tied the game at 10 before the Saints went on to win 23-17. The catch was No. 533 for Colston, breaking Martin’s previous Saints record.

Colston — who has the franchise records for both receiving and total touchdowns (59) — has since caught 23 more passes, among them a 31-yarder that set up a 27-yard, game-winning field goal as the clock ran out at Tampa Bay in Week 2. He had a combined 12 catches for 167 yards in wins against Arizona and Miami.

Then he entered uncharted territory in a bad way, catching a pair of passes for 15 yards at Soldier Field in Chicago, and a lone one for 11 yards at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. That was the lowest output in back-to-back contests for Colston since he had 33 yards in consecutive games in 2007.

Colston finished Week 6 with 324 yards. Though that leads a wide receiver corps that has accounted for just 660 of the 1,958 yards for which Brees has passed, only once has Colston had fewer yards through a six-game stretch to start a season.

Nonetheless, amid his recent struggles, Colston has won admiration. Stills and second-year receiver Nick Toon praised Colston on Wednesday for staying soft-spoken and humble while tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles have drawn most of Brees’ attention. That’s a reality former or current wideouts with reputations as outspoken divas — Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Randy Moss or Terrell Owens — perhaps wouldn’t be able to handle.

“Nothing’s changed,” Toon said. “He’s not a guy that you hear complaining. He just comes to work every day.”

Stills added: “As long as we’re winning, there’s no reason to stir anything up. He’s doing a great job of leading the rest of us and showing us how things are supposed to be done.”

Toon said what most impresses him about Colston is that he’s piled up the accomplishments in a system designed to put the football in the hands of as many players as possible. Graham, for example, has six of the team’s 14 receiving touchdowns, but seven other players have divvied up the remaining eight scores.

“For anyone to have those records is definitely a tremendous accomplishment,” Toon said. “But in this offense, it’s even harder to do.”

Matching his career average of 71.5 receiving yards per game would let Colston attain his trifecta of major Saints receiving records at some point during his team’s visit to the New York Jets on Nov. 3. It’s an opportunity he may not much care to hype as the Saints prepare to host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but it’s one he’ll get because, in coach Sean Payton’s words, “He’s been ... very reliable (and) available.

“He’s been very consistent,” Payton said about Colston, who famously was three picks away from being drafted last in 2006. “He’s got a big target area and works extremely hard during the course of the week.”