Saints will have to spread the load with Colston out

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

When I listed the NFC South's most irreplaceable players Tuesday, I came very close to listing Marques Colston for the Saints. Instead, I went with linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

The thinking was New Orleans' offense has enough weapons to survive without Colston, but the defense couldn't get by without Vilma. Now the offense is going to have to prove it can go without Colston.

He has ligament damage in his thumb and is going to be out four to six weeks. It's a big loss any way you look at it. But there are other options for this offense: Veteran receivers David Patten and Devery Henderson are going to have to step up and second-year pro Robert Meachem finally will get a chance to play. That trio of receivers isn't going to totally make up for Colston's absence.

The Saints are going to have to throw a lot to tight end Jeremy Shockey, which is why they brought him in to begin with. More than ever, the Saints are going to have to keep running back Reggie Bush heavily involved in the passing game.

Colston's injury is big, but it won't completely devastate this offense.