The Steelers knew about him. They saw him up close when they scouted Hofstra offensive tackle Willie Colon, whom they drafted in the fourth round. What didn't the Steelers like about Colston?
"I talked to [wide receivers coach Bruce Arians] about him and B.A. said he wanted him in the fourth," Colon said. "But they ended up getting Willie Reid and Santonio [Holmes], so it was tough. Then with those injuries you kind of worry how much the guy's even going to show up." Colston caught 51 passes (17.8 average) in 2003 before a shoulder injury cost him the 2004 season. A knee injury slowed Colston in 2005, but he still finished with 70 catches (13.9).
Colon roomed with Colston throughout college and is not surprised by his friend's success. Colston has 44 catches for 700 yards and seven touchdowns.
"If you ask anybody who's ever played with Marques, he's always been that gifted," Colon said. "He's always had that talent; it was just a matter of when it would come out. Some guys go to the gym and shoot jump shots. We used to spend time -- I used to throw him the ball and he'd be jumping to the rafters to go get it. He was gifted. He could do anything he wanted to do. He can definitely jump."
Colston ran a 4.54 40 at the combine and had a 37-inch vertical jump. Yet, the Steelers had drafted their complement of receivers.
"The biggest idiots in the whole draft were the Jets," Colon said. "At our Pro Day, the Jets didn't let anybody talk to him. They literally surrounded him so none of the scouts could talk to him. Come draft day I told him he was going to the Jets. Sure enough he went to New Orleans in the seventh when he had a chance to go to the Jets, but they picked up Brad Smith, a quarterback, and converted him to receiver. It was just a weird thing.
"I'm just happy for him. It's a blessing that he's doing what he's doing right now. I wish him the best of luck, just not on this Sunday."
WAS WILLIE RIGHT?
Reporters spent much of the week scurrying about the Steelers' South Side practice facility gathering responses to Willie Parker's charge that the team is not as hungry as it was last season. A sampling of responses shows a maybe, a no, and a yes.
Hines Ward said: "If the shoe fits, wear it. If it applies to you, then you should learn from it and take from it. If it doesn't, then it doesn't bother me. I know I'm out there blocking my tail off for Willie. I knocked the same guy out twice, so that doesn't apply to me. But if that's what he thinks, than so be it. I don't have a problem with Willie saying what he had to say." Chris Hoke said, "What did he say? I didn't even hear. I'd bet you half the guys didn't even hear what he said."
When the quote was relayed to him, Hoke said: "There might be some truth to it, but from what I see I don't see a lack of effort out here. Everybody's going hard."
Off the record, an assistant coach, who wasn't asked about Parker, served up his answer when he said: "Even if we go 2-14, winning the Super Bowl was worth it."
With Larry Foote and James Farrior upgraded to probable this week, the Steelers could breathe easier when Clint Kriewaldt was downgraded to out with a back injury. Still, the Steelers activated Ron Stanley from the practice squad on Saturday and released quarterback Brian St. Pierre.
James Harrison, Willie Reid and Jeff Hartings are also out of today's game for the Steelers. For the Saints, cornerback Fred Thomas and tight end Nate Lawrie were downgraded to doubtful after missing a third practice this week. Wide receiver Joe Horn (groin) is still questionable after missing his third practice. If Horn can't play, Terrance Cooper will again replace him in the lineup. Jason Craft would start in place of Thomas.