Saints Roll Into DC
Drew Brees and the explosive New Orleans Saints offense didn't lack for big plays in the team's opening-week victory.
The unit will, however, be lacking one of its biggest playmakers for at least the next month, something the Saints hope to overcome when they hit the road for the first time this season to face the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New Orleans -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 85% of bets for this game have been placed on New Orleans -1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Receiver Marques Colston had surgery on his left thumb this week and will miss four to six weeks after sustaining ligament damage during his team's 24-20 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The Saints also learned Wednesday that defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, originally expected to miss about six weeks with a torn triceps, will be out for the season. Colston's injury, however, was an unexpected blow.
Colston burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2006, helping New Orleans reach the NFC title game with 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns.
The seventh-round draft pick out of Hofstra didn't slow down last year, improving on both those numbers even as New Orleans struggled to a 7-9 record. Colston had 168 receptions through his first two seasons, more than any receiver in history to start his career.
"Losing Colston is huge," Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor said. "We all know what kind of player he is and the things he can do with the football."
Colston, though, had only three catches for 26 yards against the Buccaneers while playing hurt, and Brees still managed to throw for 343 yards and complete three touchdown passes of at least 39 yards.
Devery Henderson caught an 84-yard pass for a score in the third quarter, while Reggie Bush scampered 42 yards for the winning touchdown on one of his eight receptions.
"Drew is going to continue to spread the football around," Colston told his team's official Web site. "The other teams can't just key on stopping one guy, because that would play right into Drew's hands."
The Saints are hoping Bush's emergence will help offset Colston's absence. The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft hasn't yet lived up to his billing in the NFL, but he totaled 163 yards from scrimmage against the Bucs and dodged tacklers en route to his highlight-reel touchdown.
"That's what everybody expects. Every game, they want to see that," Bush said. "I would love to see that, too, every game, but I know it may not come every game. It may not come for another few games, but as long as I'm out there making plays, keeping my team in the game, keeping the drive alive, doing that, we should be fine."
New Orleans is already better off than last year, when it started 0-4 after coming within a game of the Super Bowl the previous season.
The Redskins are hoping to avoid a similar fate after earning a playoff spot with four straight wins to close last season. Washington struggled in its opener Sept. 4 against the New York Giants, managing only 209 total yards in a 16-7 loss.
Quarterback Jason Campbell had trouble in his first game in the West Coast offense under new coach Jim Zorn, going 15-of-27 for 133 yards. Zorn said Campbell needs to quicken his reactions to adapt to the new style.
"I think he's got enough athleticism, I really do, to speed up his game in certain situations," Zorn said. "And part of that I'm hoping is just the idea of understanding the offense better, the speed of it. He's not there yet."
Campbell agreed, adding that the whole team needed time to get comfortable with the new scheme.
"It's not just me; it's everybody," Campbell said. "Hopefully the light's going to come on quick for all of us, including the offensive coaches, and we build some kind of continuity and get trust going with each other, and get things going."
Nine full days of rest could help Washington, as could the return of defensive backs Fred Smoot and Shawn Springs for the team's home opener. Smoot left Thursday's game with a hip pointer and Springs missed it with a bruised shin, but both are expected to face the Saints' strong air attack.
The Redskins handled Brees just fine when the teams last met Dec. 17, 2006. They limited him to 207 yards passing and held New Orleans to season lows in points and total yards in a 16-10 victory at the Superdome.
The Saints have won their last two games at Washington, however, scoring a combined 67 points in victories in 2002 and '03.
Did you like this article? Subscribe to our NFL news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe