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Saints-Bengals offers dichotomy of receiver styles

- Associated Press - Thursday, December 2, 2010

METAIRIE, LA. (AP) - Devery Henderson recalled having an anxiety attack when his hometown of Opelousas honored him with a parade after the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl.

Marques Colston's on-air appearances consist primarily of public service announcements about blood donation and video game ratings for children. He rarely does commercials and quietly slips in and out of the locker room, often in a sweat shirt with the hood pulled up, as if he'd rather not be noticed.

If the Cincinnati Bengals offer the NFL's prime examples of attention-grabbing, "diva" receivers with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, their opponent this Sunday, the New Orleans Saints, field a receiving corps at the opposite end of the publicity spectrum.

"If we come off a couple of bad games here where a guy like Marques hasn't caught enough balls or Lance (Moore) or one of these other guys, you're not going to hear about them yapping about it in the media," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "They know their time will come ... whereas in other places, the minute something goes wrong, somebody's chirping. That's why I love my guys."

For a moment this week, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis sounded envious.

"Success is measured in what you do in winning and losing and I think the New Orleans guys should be very proud of that," Lewis said. "It doesn't matter how much noise you make. ... Those guys have really come together and done a great job. (They) kind of seem to play very unselfishly, which is very fun to watch."

As for the Bengals' flamboyant tandem of Owens and Ochocinco, with their reality shows and six- to seven-figure Twitter followings, Lewis sounded resigned to acceptance.

"I don't think you can limit a guy in what he does after he leaves this building," Lewis said. "Unfortunately, people want to listen to them. They don't have much of substance to say very often, particularly when they leave here. They do have an audience for some reason."

Owens and Ochocinco, who famously changed his last name from Johnson, lead the league in combined reality shows and self-promotional ventures.

They launched "The T.Ocho Show" on Oct. 12 on the Versus cable network. The Bengals (2-9) haven't won a game since and are currently mired in an eight-game losing streak.

Each had his own VH-1 reality shows on the side _ Ochocinco's involved finding a date. There's also an Ochocinco iPhone app. The Bengals receivers were two of the first three players fined for violating the league's restrictions on using social media 90 minutes before a game.

Ochocinco has about 1.5 million followers on Twitter, and on Wednesday was amusing them by lightheartedly floating the idea of picking a fight with Saints safety Darren Sharper.

"I am focused on football. What I do in my free time is my business," Ochocinco said. "When I'm outside of here, it's time for Chad to do Chad and live the life that I do have outside of football. ... But while I'm here, you know you can't question my dedication and my commitment to this team or what I've done."

Statistics show that while Ochocinco and Owens sometimes are saddled with the "distraction" label, they are outstanding players.

Ochocinco is the Bengals' all-time leading receiver with 10,580 yards.

Owens' 155 TDs rank fourth all-time in the NFL and he is 135 yards receiving from becoming only the second player in league history with 16,000 yards receiving.

Off the field, Owens trails Ochocinco in the Twitter follower department with a little more than 650,000. Then there's Colston, who had just more than 800 as of Thursday afternoon and hadn't posted a message since last December.

It's not like the Saints receivers haven't had the type of success on which they could capitalize personally. After all, they're catching balls from the most prolific passer in the last half-decade. Since 2006, Brees has more attempts (2,811), completions (1,885) and yards (21,619) than any NFL quarterback. They're also Super Bowl champions.

Yet Colston, Henderson, Moore and Robert Meachem don't do a whole lot publicity seeking. Colston, who leads the Saints with 68 catches for 810 yards, was absent from the locker room when it was open to reporters on Wednesday. On Thursday, apologetically declined to be interviewed while walking briskly to the trainers' room.

Henderson said he prefers to remain as low-profile as possible.

"I don't need followers. I don't like to be around a lot of people," Henderson said. "So some people, within their personality, that's the type of stuff they're used to and stuff they like and that drives them or motivates them. ... I'm just not like that. I'm just low-key ... and don't like to be in the limelight."

Saints coach Sean Payton praises his receivers for quietly going about their business and understanding that their time to shine won't come every week, but will come eventually if they're patient because of the democratic manner in which Brees distributes the ball.

At the same time, Payton _ who in 2008 pushed for a trade that brought tight end Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans _ made it clear that he respects flamboyant players like Owens and Ochocinco as well.

"At receiver, you see a lot of guys that have that flair," Payton said. "The one thing in common when you talk about those two players is that they love football. They enjoy the competition. ... You can't help but see when you look at the course of their careers the success that they've had."

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AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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