Monday, 06 June 2011 16:37

Marcus Colston Is New Orleans Saints Best Slot Receiver

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New Orleans SaintsWho is the Saints' leading slot receiver?

Not Reggie Bush, Lance Moore or Pierre Thomas, but wide receiver Marques Colston.

We're talking yardage, touchdowns and catches (only players who lined up in the slot at least 100 times qualified for league slot leaders). Bush and Thomas because of injuries didn't line up at the slot often enough to be considered.

Colston had more slot yardage than any other player in the NFL last season (696 slot yards). The 6-foot-4, 225-pound five-year veteran caught 84 passes for 1,023 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.

Will the Saints' use of Colston change the way other teams do things? Perhaps more will look to create that type of mismatch against defenses that don't shift personnel to follow receivers. A successful formula in the NFL (No Football League) is soon to be mimicked.

The Saints, though, have a unique offense, and it wouldn't be simply case of putting a big, physical guy like Colston in the slot and expecting dividends. The Saints have threats out of the backfield, and used players like Lance Moore who have lined up outside to run their underneath routes and create more mismatch problems.

What makes Colston's yardage total all the more remarkable is that he had 27 fewer catches from the slot than the No. 2 yardage man, Danny Amendola of the Rams. By quite some distance, Amendola caught more balls than any other player lined up out-flanked by another receiver.  Amendola had 80 slot receptions while Colston was third in the league with 53, A big reason Amendola finished with more slot receptions is because he was targeted a great deal more than everyone else, but there were players like Colston that got looks without converting them nearly as often.

Colston was a slot target 78 times for fourth in the league. His slot catcher percentage was 67.95 per cent., good for ninth in the NFL.

Establishing which players spend most of the time in the slot brought with it the names of a lot of guys you'd expect; the smaller, shiftier types. What's notable about Colston is that he's the only guy listed above 6-foot-1 to make the top 15 list.

Colston averaged 12.2 yards per catch on all his receptions and 13.13 from the slot, good for seventh in the league.

Which slot receivers helped out their quarterbacks the most with yards after the catch? Unsurprisingly there are the familiar faces of Amendola, Wes Welker and Eddie Royal near the top. Again, it's not really until you get to Colston that you get a real "different" type of receiver when you consider he doesn't run quite so many underneath routes in the Saints offense.

The average distance of a pass thrown to Colston in the slot was 11.69, only 19th in the league, but the Saints' slot receivers tend to push seams and get their slot options moving upfield. The average distance thrown to Amendola was only 5.30 yards.

Colston underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee this offseason. It's the same knee he had scoped in late December. The procedure repaired cartilage around the kneecap, similar to the microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009.

Colston recovered in time for training camp two years ago and he claims to be ahead of that schedule this time around. This is the fifth known knee surgery of Colston's career.

You can expect tight end Jimmy Graham to eat into his red-zone productions starting this season, a contract year for Colston. analysts have debated the  pecking order of what it thought to be the top seven quarterbacks in the league. The alleged top 7 quarterbacks in the league  -- namely Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick, are thought to be the remaining quarterbacks on the "Top 100 Players of 2011,"  But what makes a quarterback great? Determining the criteria to rate the upper echelon of players at any position always is difficult, especially for the offense's front man, who has such a large effect on the outcome of a game. One deterring factor of the worthiness of the NFL's highest paid players is their ability in the clutch, especially at quarterback. With that in mind, here's a glance at the top 7 quarterbacks thought to be included in the top 50 players in the league oand how they fared in the late stages of games last season: Fourth-Quarter Passer Rating: Tom Brady, 100, Drew Brees, 85; Peyton Manning, 92; Philip Rivers, 95; Aaron Rogers, 93; Ben Roethlisberger, 105; and Michael Vick, 97...

by Ed Staton

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Bayoubuzz Staff

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