New Orleans Saints welcome back healthy Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune November 07, 2008 9:35PM

Saints receiver Marques Colston says he is finally healthy and ready to contribute for the final eight games of the season.

Technically, receiver Marques Colston and tight end Jeremy Shockey have been back in the Saints’ lineup since mid-October. But starting with Sunday’s game at Atlanta, the Saints are hoping that they get the “real” Colston and Shockey back for the second half of the season.

Last week’s bye came at a great time for the injury-plagued offensive stars, both of whom are on the verge of making a full recovery.

“I’m to a point now where I feel like I’m pretty much back to where I want to be, ” said Colston, who missed five games after he tore a ligament in his left thumb in Week 1, then struggled to shake off the rust when he returned in Week 7. “I’m used to playing at a high level, and I feel like I’m able to do that again, and hopefully, I’ll just be able to help this team make a push for the playoffs.”

Colston said he had to adjust to wearing a thin plastic splint over his thumb, but he said he now feels “100 percent confident in catching again.”

Saints Coach Sean Payton said Colston’s role will be “expanded” after he was limited in each of the past two games. Colston had zero catches during a frustrating loss at Carolina. Then he caught two passes for 56 yards, including a 49-yarder, in the Week 8 victory over San Diego in London.

Shockey, who missed three games after having sports hernia surgery in late September, also was limited in the past two games because of a setback he suffered when he did the splits on his first play from scrimmage at Carolina.

He said he wouldn’t put himself at 100 percent just yet, but he hopes to get there by the end of the month.

“I just kind of take it one day at a time, and hopefully, it gets better every day, ” said Shockey, who has been battling the injury since the start of training camp, when it originally was diagnosed as a groin injury.

Shockey tried to play through the pain for the first three games before it became apparent that he needed surgery.

“I think (the fans) know they haven’t seen me, ” Shockey said when he was asked if Saints fans haven’t yet seen what he can bring to his new team since he arrive in a trade this summer from the New York Giants. “Obviously, this injury dates back to camp. All the doctors’ decisions, the doctors viewing X-rays, this, that and MRIs, that’s in the past. . . . It’s tough. The toughest part about this game is to stay healthy.

“To the Saints fans, to the organization, to my teammates, hopefully, they still trust and believe in what I can do. I know what I’m capable of, and I think the fans will definitely see it soon.”

That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses. The Saints have the NFL’s top-ranked passing offense this year, even without much contribution from two of their biggest threats. Neither Colston nor Shockey has caught a touchdown pass this year.

The Saints also will have a healthy David Patten at their disposal in the second half of the season after he battled a lingering groin injury in the first half. Patten will play a lesser role now that Lance Moore has emerged as a go-to guy, but he should be active in nickel packages on Sunday. He and receiver Robert Meachem could trade off from week to week, depending on the matchups.

INJURY REPORT: Tailback Reggie Bush (knee) and center Jonathan Goodwin (knee) were both officially ruled out of Sunday’s game on Friday, as expected. Everyone else on the Saints’ roster will be good to go.

Four Falcons players are listed as questionable — left tackle Todd Weiner (knee), center Todd McClure (back), defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee) and cornerback Brent Grimes (knee).

HALL PASS: Although the Saints were mentioned as possible suitors for cornerback DeAngelo Hall in various reports this week after he was released by the Oakland Raiders, it doesn’t appear as though they showed any real interest before he signed with the Washington Redskins on Friday.

SPECIAL GUEST: The Saints invited a special guest to Friday’s practice, 5-year-old River Lacrouts of Metairie, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy.

Lacrouts got to break the huddle after practice before getting the chance to meet players and coaches, collect autographs and join them for lunch.

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