Nationals

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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Stephen Strasburg held contract record for 33 hours before Gerrit Cole broke it

Stephen Strasburg held contract record for 33 hours before Gerrit Cole broke it

When the offseason began, it was widely expected that a starting pitcher would be signing a record contract before the end of the winter.

David Price held the record for the highest total value with his seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox that he signed in December 2014. The highest average annual salary, however, belonged to Zack Greinke for the six-year, $206.5 million contract he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks ($34.42M AAV) before being traded to the Houston Astros.

Both those records were smashed this winter, but the first one to do it wasn’t who most were expecting.

Stephen Strasburg agreed to a seven-year, $245 million deal ($35M AAV) with the Nationals on Monday that broke both Price’s and Greinke’s records. Despite having $80 million of that total deferred to after the seven years, Strasburg was the sole owner of the richest contract for a pitcher in MLB history.

That is, until the news broke just before midnight on Tuesday night that Gerrit Cole reached an agreement with the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $324 million contract that left Strasburg’s deal in the dust. Not only is his $36 million AAV be the highest of any pitcher ever, it’s also the highest of any player ever—just edging past Mike Trout’s figure of $35.54 million.

Strasburg is no longer the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, but after opting out of the remaining four seasons and $100 million left on his previous deal only to receive an additional three years and $145 million—which makes his opt-out the most successful ever—he’s probably not too disappointed.

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6 things to know for Caps-Bruins: Clash of the titans

6 things to know for Caps-Bruins: Clash of the titans

The Capitals (22-5-5) return to the ice Wednesday looking to erase Monday's ugly loss. A win against the Boston Bruins (20-5-6) certainly would go a long way towards erasing the memory of that loss. Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame coverage starting with Caps FaceOff Live at 6 p.m. followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. bringing you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop on NBCSN. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here's what you need to know for Wednesday's game.

No line changes

Monday was a tough loss, but when you have been playing as well as the Caps are there is no reason to overreact. Based on the morning skate there were no line changes from Monday's game.

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby starts

A battle of the top teams

This game will feature the top two teams in the league according to the standings. Washington sits atop the NHL with 49 points while the Bruins sit just behind them with 46. Boston has a game in hand so while a loss for the Caps tonight would not technically drop them to second place, it would give Boston the inside track on passing them in the near future.

You are going to hear the phrase "measuring stick" a lot before and after this game.

Forget about Monday

Washington dropped Monday's game 5-2 at home to Columbus. Yikes. That is not the way you want to go into a big matchup, but hey, the Bruins are in the same boat. Boston lost on Monday 5-2 to the Ottawa Senators so both teams are coming into this game off a bad loss.

When last we met

The Caps and Bruins met once this season already back on Nov. 16 in a game that would result in a crazy shootout victory for Washington.  T.J. Oshie scored a last-minute goal to tie the game in regulation and Jakub Vrana would win it in a shootout with this absolute gem:

You can read more on that game here.

Pastrnak may end Ovechkin's Rocket Richard run

Ovechkin has won the last two Rocket Richard Trophies as the league's top goal scorer and six of the last seven. David Pastrnak may finally end that run this season. Pastrnak currently leads the league with 25 goals. He hit 25 goals in his 27th game which made some wonder if he could hit the fabled 50 in 50 mark, but he currently finds himself in a four-game goalless drought, his longest drought of the season.

Ovechkin sits second with 21 so he remains well within striking distance.

The Caps have owned the Bruins lately

Washington lost to Boston on Feb. 3, 2019. That was the first time the Bruins had beaten the Caps since 2014. Washington has completely owned Boston in this matchup with the Caps winning 15 of the last 16 games they have played one another. While Tuukka Rask may be one of the top netminders in the league, Washington sure seems to have his number. He is a woeful 2-11-5 against the Caps with a .889 save percentage and 3.10 GAA.

That probably is why Washington played Jaroslav Halak the last time they met and why Halak will be getting the start again on Wednesday.

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