Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, hope for a bounce back this week

Posted by Teddy Kider, The Times-Picayune October 22, 2008 4:18PM

Off the injury report and on the practice field for the Saints’ first full session abroad, receiver Marques Colston displayed his typically calm demeanor Wednesday. And he was blunt about his comeback in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Saints receiver Marques Colston is hoping for a better performance this week.

“I fully expected to come in and pick up right where I left off, and obviously that didn’t happen for me, ” Colston said. “But I really can’t say it was harder. I just didn’t have a good day. You have those every once in a while, and hopefully it’s a long time before you have another one.”

Colston finished the 30-7 defeat, which dropped the Saints to 3-4, with no catches. After two weeks of practice and more than a month of recovery from thumb surgery, 10 Saints had more catches than Colston on Sunday.

Colston, however, said his lack of production was not the result of “a medical issue.” As he tries to get back to the type of performances that made him the Saints’ most dangerous receiving threat, the issues for him are timing and rhythm.

They will be again Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London against the San Diego Chargers, with Colston, a Hofstra alumnus, performing in what he said will be the largest stadium he has ever played in.

“This week I definitely want to make a lot of progress, ” Colston said. “I didn’t have my best game last week in my first game back, but this is an important game for the team, and I’ve got to step up and play well. And so I fully expect that.”

Expectations are also high, as always, for another player in a similar situation. Tight end Jeremy Shockey is trying to return from hernia surgery. Shockey, who has been more vocal than Colston about his frustration, did not practice Wednesday.

He finished the game against Carolina with five catches for 50 yards. But he lost a fumble and missed a key block, and he said afterward that he aggravated his injury on the Saints’ first offensive play.

“I think any time you miss that significant amount of time — we’re talking a month or more for both of them — there’s an adjustment, there’s a rhythm to practicing and playing and a confidence level and that sort of thing, that just kind of needs to be regained a little bit, ” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “And so I’m not worried one bit about either of those guys. I think it’s only a matter of time before we all get right back on the same page and then elevate our game to another level, even better than we have been before.”

The Saints still are looking for a breakthrough game that shows a good command of offense and defense with the luxury of a full roster. The opportunity is gone now that running back Reggie Bush (knee) is sidelined, and Shockey appears to be farther away from 100 percent than Colston, based on practice time.

But the Saints did appear to have a few things to be pleased with Wednesday. Rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (knee) was off the injury report and back on the practice field for the first time in weeks, and Saints Coach Sean Payton said he expects Ellis to play Sunday.

Also back for the Saints was left guard Jamar Nesbit, who, after a four-game suspension, is playing with an exemption until Sunday’s game, when the Saints will have to free a roster spot for him. Nesbit’s return is important because center Jonathan Goodwin (knee) and right guard Jahri Evans (ankle) missed Wednesday’s session.

Defensive end Will Smith missed practice and was an addition to the injury report with what Payton called a slight abdominal strain, cornerback Mike McKenzie (knee) missed practice as expected and defensive tackle Brian Young was limited.

It seems the bye week could not come soon enough for the Saints — and they are hoping they can reach it with a 4-4 record, not 3-5.

“I think we’re getting there, ” Payton said about Colston and Shockey getting healthy, “and I think after the bye certainly we’re going to have a better feel.”

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