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Saints praise Colston's consistency, reliability

Saints praise Colston's consistency, reliability

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Marques Colston never goes out of his way to be noticed.

He became the New Orleans Saints' all-time leader in touchdowns scored this season with 56, yet does not have a touchdown dance. He seldom appears in commercials, and is often hard to find when the locker room at team headquarters is open to reporters.

At Dallas last Sunday, Colston's 10 catches for 153 yards put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in his seven seasons. Yet he has never been to a Pro Bowl, which disappoints teammates such as quarterback Drew Brees.

``He is Mr. Dependable, Mr. Steady. When you need a play, I know I can always count on him,'' Brees said Wednesday. ``He's a quiet guy, but when he comes to work, he's ready to work.''

Brees said he loves Colston the way he is and would not want him to change, but figures the slender, 6-foot-4 receiver's introverted nature probably works against him when it comes to getting the recognition he deserves.

``How do guys get noticed for the (Pro Bowl's) fan vote and for everything else?'' Brees asked rhetorically. ``If you're not saying something that's getting you on TV or what have you, then a lot of times people don't notice you if you keep the helmet on and just work. You don't have a touchdown dance, but there's no guy that's been steadier than him at the receiver position.''

The only season in which Colston compiled fewer than 1,000 yards receiving was 2008, when a hand injury limited him to 11 games and he finished with 760.

Since Colston entered the league as a seventh-round draft choice out of Hofstra in 2006, only three players in the NFL have caught more touchdown passes. Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald has the most at 59, just three more than Colston, while San Francisco's Randy Moss has 58 and San Diego's Antonio Gates has 57.

In addition to Colston's numbers, the Saints talk about his toughness - the way he makes difficult catches in traffic over the middle, routinely absorbing big hits. Colston owns an oxygen-rich hyperbaric chamber, and often sleeps in it during the season in hopes of hastening his recovery from injuries or the general pounding he takes.

``No matter how battered or bruised he is, he's in practice,'' Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said. ``He doesn't take time off. He doesn't miss games. All he does is he takes it to heart the accountability he has to his teammates and he takes it to heart the accountability he has to this game, and he's special.''

Colston was not available for comment Wednesday when Pro Bowl rosters were released.

When he did speak to reporters after last Sunday's victory at Dallas, he talked not about his pivotal role in the win, but berated himself for a dropped pass and a fumble in overtime, even though the play on which he lost the ball still set up the Saints' winning field goal after tight end Jimmy Graham recovered it.

``Even with the win, it's personally going to leave a sour taste in my mouth because I can't do that,'' Colston said. ``It's one of those things where I know that can't happen. It's been an issue where I've had a couple this year. It just doesn't sit well with me.''

Such a reaction was classic Colston, Brees said.

``That's what I love about him. He had 10 (catches) for (more than) 150 (yards) and he's mad about one drop and a fumble,'' Brees said. ``That's where his head's at. He's such a prideful guy. He wants people to be able to count on him.

``You love having guys like that because you don't have to police them. They police themselves.''

Colston has never been one to complain about not getting the ball enough or not getting paid enough. In fact, he could have tested the open market last winter, but instead chose to sign a five-year extension worth about $36 million before free agency even started.

That should keep Colston around long enough to break Eric Martin's all-time Saints marks for catches and yards receiving. Colston is second all-time with 527 receptions and 7,342 yards, putting him five catches and 512 yards behind Martin in both categories.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera, whose team visits New Orleans this Sunday, said players of Colston's caliber deserve better than to have their legacies defined by Pro Bowl appearances.

``The thing about the Pro Bowl is ... it's not necessarily about who the best player is,'' Rivera said. ``We're talking about a guy that was on a Super Bowl championship team, too, now. So you'd like to think that somewhere along the line he'd be recognized for what he does.''

Notes: Two Saints were selected for the Pro Bowl: RG Jahri Evans and P Thomas Morstead. ... FB Jed Collins, DT Akiem Hicks and RB Pierre Thomas missed Wednesday's practice with various knee injuries, while CB Jabari Greer sat out because of his concussion from Sunday's game at Dallas. ... Chris Ivory (hamstring) and TE Jimmy Graham (left wrist, right ring finger) were limited in practice.

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Lars Eller is out and John Carlson is a game-time decision for Game 1

Lars Eller is out and John Carlson is a game-time decision for Game 1

The Capitals will begin their first-round series against the New York Islanders shorthanded, though we are not quite sure how much yet. The team will be without center Lars Eller for Wednesday's Game 1 against the New York Islanders, according to head coach Todd Reirden. Defenseman John Carlson will be a game-time decision.

Eller left the bubble on Aug. 5 to be with his family for the birth of a child. He returned on Sunday and remains in his room under quarantine until he receives four negative tests over the course of four days. That meant it was theoretically possible that he could be cleared before Wednesday's game, but Reirden put the matter to rest on Tuesday saying Eller would not be available for Game 1.

Travis Boyd has played in Eller's spot on the third line and is expected to remain there for Game 1.

“You feel comfortable with the player that knows our system, knows the detail that is expected, understands his role on the team," Reirden said of Boyd. "He is very versatile we can use him in a lot of different ways and he is going to get that opportunity [Wednesday]. He has made well on this opportunity thus far. I think he has played well in both of the games he has been a part of and now it is where does he go from here?"

On the back end, Carlson's status remains unknown.

After getting tangled up in the team's exhibition game, Carlson did not play in any of the team's round robin games. This was believed to be just a precaution to save Carlson for when the games really start to matter in the playoffs. For that reason and considering how important a player he is, I would expect him to play or otherwise the injury is much more serious than anyone realized.

Carlson skated in both Monday's optional skate and Tuesday's practice.

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Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

After speculation and uncertainty surrounding the college football season grew in recent days, the Big Ten Conference has announced that it is canceling its football season for the fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

In the release, the Big Ten announced it will "continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."

News from the Big Ten differs from speculation and reports coming out of the ACC which state that the conference is set on making the season work in the coming months.

The Mountain West Conference announced it would be canceling its fall season as well on Monday, with hopes to play in the spring instead. 

The Big Ten decision does not come as much of a surprise. It was reported that the Big Ten was going to call the season off on Tuesday. Dan Patrick reported that news and said that the conference had an internal meeting on Sunday resulting in a 12-2 vote to not play a college football season this fall. Nebraska and Iowa were the two conference programs to vote in favor of playing this season.

Additionally, signs of hesitation were shown in the days leading up to the announcement. The Big Ten recently postponed its ramping-up period that included full-pad practices. The Big Ten did, however, recently unveil its 2020 conference-only schedule, leading to confusion in terms of what its stance was on playing football in 2020. Now, there is no more speculation. 

The Pac-12 Conference is reportedly expected to make the same choice as the Big Ten, but has yet to make an official decision. 

While it's understandable that the conference is prioritizing the health and safety of its players amid a pandemic that continues to impact thousands on a daily basis, the news is sure to upset players and coaches around the college football world. Big names such as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, among others, have been campaigning to continue the season with the #WeWantToPlay movement on social media.

With players from all Power 5 conference uniting, they have asked for universal health and safety protocols, opt-outs for athletes that want them, guaranteed eligibility and voices from all conferences to be included in the decision. President Donald Trump also weighed in, supporting the call to play football in the fall on Monday and reiterating that in statements on Tuesday.

Despite the large faction that was on board with the status quo for now, the Big Ten will not be part of a potential college football season in the coming months. There is a chance that the season is played in the spring. Reports indicated that Warren and leaders around the conference preferred that idea, but no decision has been made at this time.

The Big Ten has now spoken, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow suit soon. With two of the five major conferences backing out, it will be up to the SEC, Big 12 and ACC to dictate the future of a 2020 college football season. 

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