‘Special connection’: Drew Brees’ receivers reveal 18 years of greatness – New Orleans Saints Blog


Marques Colston has caught extra passes from Drew Brees than anybody. However as he mirrored on these 706 catches for 9,709 yards and 72 touchdowns, the previous New Orleans Saints receiver laughed at what number of of them he by no means truly noticed leaving Brees’ hand.

QB Drew Brees is 201 yards away from turning into the NFL’s all-time passing yardage chief throughout Monday’s Redskins-Saints recreation (eight:15 p.m. ET, ESPN). Learn extra:

Timeline: Brees’ journey to passing file
Tales: 15 receivers reveal Brees’ greatness
Barnwell: What if Brees was by no means a Saint?
Information: Saints QB shares all of the credit score

“Many of the intermediate routes, I’d simply see the ball come out of a pile of parents,” Colston stated of Brees, who wants 201 yards on Monday night time towards the Washington Redskins to surpass Peyton Manning and grow to be the NFL’s all-time chief in passing yards. “And that is simply time on activity, man. There isn’t any different option to actually clarify it. I imply, that is most likely lots of if not 1000’s of reps, me seeing the protection the way in which he is seeing the protection, having the ability to learn physique language.

“It was only a particular, particular connection.”

Brees is the unlikeliest of all-time greats — a quarterback who stands simply 6 ft tall, was barely recruited out of highschool and fell to the second spherical of the NFL draft, the place he started his profession with the San Diego Chargers in 2001 after which joined the Saints in 2006.

However the way in which his receivers describe it, Brees has earned his option to 71,740 profession passing yards by way of a mix of talent and want, accuracy and character, uncanny imaginative and prescient and relentless work ethic.

ESPN spoke with 15 of Brees’ pass-catchers for a group of their fondest recollections, together with the years and his stats with the QB:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson, 2001-05

254 catches, 1,750 yards, 6 TDs

Evan Hurd/Corbis by way of Getty Photos

“I simply consider his competitiveness and his capability to, I assume, all the time bounce again and by no means take no for a solution. Even these early years when it was robust on him and he was going by way of the Doug Flutie scenario for some time [being benched three times], then it turned the Philip Rivers scenario, he all the time remained the identical. He was according to the way in which he considered himself — like, ‘I am a high quarterback on this league, I am a beginning quarterback, I am a Professional Bowl man, I am an All-Professional man.’ He all the time considered himself like that. So that is what involves my thoughts once I consider Drew Brees.”

WR Keenan McCardell, 2004-05

97 catches, 1,255 yards, 9 TDs

Ann Heisenfelt/AP Photograph

“I acquired there proper after Week eight of the common season, acquired traded there, and the very first thing he needed me to do was to get on the identical web page with him. We stayed after — not simply me, however all people, and we made positive we acquired on the identical web page. He was unbelievably ready on a regular basis. We might keep after on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He purchased dinner for us.

“I bear in mind the primary Wednesday that I acquired there, after apply he stated, ‘Keenan, let’s play some catch afterwards.’ He stated, ‘Simply keep in entrance of me.’ It was one thing like Michael Jordan the place he closes his eyes and shoots the free throw. He closed his eyes and I used to be standing in entrance of him [10 yards away] and I am like, ‘What are you doing?’ He stated, ‘Simply keep there.’ He stated, ‘I simply need to attempt to really feel the place you might be.’ He stated, ‘You may step to the facet and I am simply making an attempt to really feel.’ … I began laughing afterwards. I stated, ‘Drew, that is the primary time I’ve ever seen someone shut their eyes and throw me the ball and hit me in between the eight and seven.’ He began laughing. After that, I spotted you had someone particular.”

180 catches, 2,279 yards, 23 TDs

“This explicit second was particular for me, and particular for the entire workforce (a 72-yard landing within the second quarter of a Week 15 win at Cleveland in 2004). He threw me like a bullet route, and it was the primary time as a bunch that we gained the AFC West. That was like a 10-year span the place the Chargers hadn’t been to the playoffs. It was tremendous chilly, and I bear in mind him throwing that wheel route and the way joyful we have been. He threw it, I caught it and I used to be gone.

“He simply epitomized the quarterback place and what it means to be an All-Professional, simply the way in which he all the time dealt with the ups and downs of his profession.”

WR Lance Moore, 2006-13

346 catches, four,281 yards, 38 TDs

“The truth that he is a 10-, 12-, 15-year veteran, and after Saturday walk-through he goes into the indoor [practice facility] by himself and walks by way of the whole recreation plan main as much as the sport — more often than not at midnight, no person in there with him, no playbook, it is all off of his head; that was the primary time I ever noticed anyone do this. And I can nearly assure you he nonetheless does it to this present day. So, there is a cause why he is nice.

“I bear in mind the primary day that I used to be again from Birmingham [in 2006] after I acquired harm in NFL Europe … the very first day that I am on this constructing, Drew walks as much as me, introduces himself to me. And at first, I am nervous as a result of, like, ‘That is Drew Brees,’ . However then I am like, ‘Wow, this dude is superior. I am a younger man, by no means performed in any video games within the NFL, and he is going out of his option to introduce himself to me.’ However I all the time inform folks these days, as a fantastic a participant as he’s, he is a fair better particular person, and takes the time and does the work.”

WR Marques Colston, 2006-15

706 catches, 9,709 yards, 72 TDs

“I believe he is simply someone that understood everybody round him. And there is a reminiscence I’ve of that first landing that we scored collectively. And what stood out to me was that he was extra excited for me than I used to be for myself. Simply watching the video, he ran and jumped on me. And for him to be that excited for a rookie in his first recreation, that simply speaks volumes to who he’s as an individual and as a person.

“I believe everybody within the constructing understood that he is fingers down the most effective participant within the group, however you’d by no means understand it by the way in which he interacts with everybody round him and the way in which that he works and he grinds like he is a free agent making an attempt to make the roster.”

RB Reggie Bush, 2006-10

294 catches, 2,142 yards, 12 TDs

“Nicely, I am going to inform you one factor he did I did not like. It was once we performed the Eagles within the playoff recreation [after the 2006 season], and he laid me on the market to dry, and I acquired my head knocked off. And now each time an Eagles participant tweets me, that is the very first thing they bring about up. ‘Hey you bear in mind this hit?’ In fact, I bear in mind the hit. Nevertheless it’s humorous, as a result of Drew’s such a fantastic participant and such a fantastic skilled, on and off the sphere, and I keep in mind that second coming again into the huddle, he was like, ‘Hey man, I am sorry, bro. I am actually sorry.’ And I felt unhealthy for him as a result of I knew it actually affected him. However that is the sort of participant he’s. He is a competitor. He is some of the aggressive folks I’ve ever been round.”

RB Pierre Thomas, 2007-14

327 catches, 2,608 yards, 12 TDs

“I bear in mind there was one throw, he was working off to the facet, and he simply shovel handed it to me, and I ran up the sphere and acquired the primary down for him. I did not suppose he was going to throw it to me, however he did. There was just a few occasions he acquired me like that.

“It is his work ethic [that stands out]. The main points he put in his recreation, day in, day trip, throughout apply, after apply. He is making an attempt to determine what’s extra comfy for the gamers. You already know, all people is totally different, all people’s distinctive, all people has their very own means of performing — and he desires to verify he works with that. The steps, how guys get out of cuts, how lengthy does it take for sure guys, as a result of all people’s not the identical.”

WR Robert Meachem, 2007-11, 2013-14

162 catches, 2,695 yards, 25 TDs

“I need to say a highschool gave him entry to a gymnasium. We had morning exercises, after which about 12 or 1 o’clock, we’d attempt to go to the college and play pickup basketball. And it was so humorous, as a result of we had a play the place I truly acquired the ball, so I used to be the quarterback, I used to be the purpose guard. He needed to go play one other place. And he did not like that. You already know, he is used to being in management, so he did not like that an excessive amount of. He needed to change. …

“He is a perfectionist, so just about the whole lot we needed to do, we have been gonna do it over once more after apply. As a result of if he did not like the place he positioned the ball throughout apply, we have been gonna need to redo it. So a whole lot of my touchdowns have been lengthy bombs, so his greatest issues can be if he was quick on one or if he overthrew me. Oh lord, he must redo that one as a result of he’d be mad about it. However he was a perfectionist, and once we acquired within the recreation, it labored time after time.”

202 catches, 1,379 yards, four TDs

“He is simply good folks, man. You’d suppose as a result of he is an elite all-time passing chief that he would possibly really feel entitled or held to a sure normal. However he is simply one of many guys. He kicks it, hangs out, competes within the locker room, simply has enjoyable. That is what I really like most about him.

“[His competitiveness comes out in every locker room game]. Oh, pingpong for positive. That one 12 months once we had the [pingpong ranking] record going, I bear in mind one time I should have beat him, and he needed to maintain enjoying till he might beat me. He stored coming again every day. After which sooner or later, he acquired his swing happening the pingpong desk and he was capable of get me a pair days later. Even on the [mini-basketball] hoop, he needed to play someone left-handed. That is simply him, man.”

95 catches, 1,572 yards, eight TDs

“The largest factor I bear in mind is how OCD he was about the whole lot. He is a repetition man. They have to be excellent reps. We might run these routes till he felt like they have been good to go for the sport. … I can bear in mind him being tremendous OCD about touching the road once we’re doing sure drills, retaining his routine very related each day; and when he acquired out of that routine, it will throw him off.

“At first, you suppose it is humorous, however you then notice and see how a lot success he is had. You see how these issues play an element in that and it turns into one thing you admire. That is one thing I’ve discovered from him — getting in that routine, sticking to it. And now I perceive in case you get off of that how that feels and the way it impacts my play. It is actually one thing that rubbed off on me.”

121 catches, 1,277 yards, 10 TDs

“I would say he is uncomfortably regular. He is a celebrity, however you would possibly see him and his spouse and the youngsters procuring in Goal. I bear in mind I noticed him in Goal one time and I used to be like, ‘Dude, you are Drew Brees. Why are you in Goal? You do not have anyone to go to Goal for you? You may’t simply stroll round in Goal. Do you could have safety with you?’ No, he is only a regular man strolling round. He is teaching his children in soccer. He is coming to my children’ birthday celebration. He is accessible. He is a really regular, approachable man who is among the greatest, if not the most effective, to play the place.”

208 catches, 2,782 yards, 20 TDs

“Very first thing I consider instantly, so we each lived in Del Mar [California, in the offseason]. A protracted story, however I lived a pair doorways down from him — due to him, we’ll simply say that. And I bear in mind on a bye week us going residence. And , bye week, you consider like calm down and recuperate, whatnot. However simply being on that very same web page, we went to our again alley and we have been enjoying lengthy toss. We have been most likely on the market for about an hour. And I believe what makes him nice is how correct he’s. And simply desirous about that second on how particular he was, even within the streets, on the place he needed to place the ball made me notice that this man takes each little element into consideration and that makes him particular. And he is a fair higher particular person.”

2 catches, four yards

“Oh man, his work ethic. He is extraordinarily good, nice chief. Being round him, fingers down he is the most effective quarterback within the league to me. Aaron Rodgers is just not far off, however I’ve to offer it to Drew Brees due to the period of time he is been within the league and he is nonetheless doing it at a excessive stage. And being round him personally, I’ve seen how he works off the sphere, as effectively.”

116 catches, 1,162 yards, 6 TDs

“Once I first acquired right here, I had watched Drew so much and I knew he was nice. However once I acquired to apply, I simply remembered once I lastly caught a ball from him, he like actually throws the ball to your fingers like you do not have no selection however to catch it. He is that good, he is that correct. That is one factor that caught with me and nonetheless sticks with me from the primary time I had that interplay with him. It is nonetheless the identical. A number of the throws he makes are loopy. Typically you won’t suppose you are getting the ball, and he simply throws it to your fingers and, ooh, you bought it.”

238 catches, 2,827 yards, 17 TDs

“He is all the time on. Drew is all the time on. And when a man’s on, it is contagious — whether or not it is the look in his eyes that he is on, whether or not it is the way in which he communicates with you or whether or not it is simply how he is enjoying, like he is on hearth. He loves soccer. He is an instance of the way you’re alleged to play the place. He is all the time finding out the sport. So for a man like me, it is contagious for me to have someone like that. I all the time say it: These guys preserve you trustworthy. If you wish to be this, if you wish to do that, if you wish to go into video games and be this constant … you look as much as these guys.

“And one other factor, he is a fantastic dad. He is a fantastic particular person, and he is a fantastic dad. So for a man who has [four] children and loves his children to have the ability to come right here and nonetheless give all of it to this group, you sort of need to give again to a man like that. You need to carry again as many wins as potential.”

— ESPN reporters Michael DiRocco, Eric D. Williams, Lindsey Thiry, Cameron Wolfe and John Keim contributed to this report.


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