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Battle for backup QB kicks into high gear for New Orleans Saints

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Whatever rotation that New Orleans Saints coaches use this preseason as they attempt to determine the team’s No. 2 quarterback – whether Tom Savage takes snaps before Taysom Hill, or vice versa – the two participants won’t lack for opportunities.

Each is in his first preseason with the Saints, and while Savage is a five-year veteran with nine starts and 13 NFL games on his resume, Hill, who never has played in a regular-season game as quarterback, had the benefit of being with the Saints all last season and being on the active roster for five games, albeit as a special team member.

“They’re two different type players, but ultimately you want to see the offense move the ball,” Coach Sean Payton said. “Both of them are picking up things. Taysom’s in his second year, Tom is someone who has played and has had more experience.

“But both of them are going to get a lot of work in this preseason. Both of them are doing well so ultimately, it’s how the team moves with them in there and putting us in positions to score.”

Savage is a bit more stationary as a target than is Hill. In eight games, with seven starts, last year for Houston, he completed 56.1 percent of his passes for 1,412 yards and five touchdowns, with six interceptions.

Like his teammates, he’s eager to play in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

“You see it out there, it’s getting competitive,” Savage said. “We’re always competing but it’s going to be exciting to go against some other guys. Take our frustration out on them.”

Savage said he’ll treat it like a normal game.

“That’s all I can control,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and execute my job and do what I can do, and all the other stuff is out of my control.”

Hill, too, is excited about the opportunity. He went through training camp last year with Green Bay before being waived by the Packers and claimed by New Orleans.

Hill’s athleticism has been on display since he was added to the active roster; he had four special teams tackles and works on several of the units. This offseason, Hill, who ran for 2,815 yards and 32 touchdowns in college at BYU, and passes for 6,929 yards and 43 touchdowns, has added holder to his resume.

“Any opportunity to get on the field, I’m excited about,” he said. “(Kicker) Wil (Lutz) is a good friend and I’m excited about the opportunity to be out on the field with him at the same time and experiencing the opportunity to kick a big-time field goal in a big-time game. So I’m excited about that. It’s a new thing for me, I’ve never done it before, but excited for the challenge.”

More, though, he’s looking forward to getting a chance to play quarterback in the NFL.

“I’m fired up about it,” he said. “We’ve talked about this several times, that this is really been my first opportunity to play quarterback in this offense, and Thursday will be my first opportunity to play quarterback in this system in a game. So I’m fired up about that, excited for the opportunity and the challenge.”

The Green Bay experience helped in terms of preparing him for what he might face Thursday.

“I think getting used to and acclimated to the speed of the game and the timing and all that is big,” Hill said. “I would say that was really important for me in Green Bay. I didn’t get a ton of reps in Green Bay, so I look at this preseason as another unique and great opportunity to get some game-time experience in the NFL at quarterback. And I’m excited about that. I’ll prepare as if we’re going into a big-time game and do my best to move the ball up and down the field.

“I think it’s normal to feel like you need to press, try to make all the big plays, all the big throws. The challenge is to try to get rid of that mentality, go through your reads, make the right throws when they’re there and check it down when you need to.”

New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2018
Aug 4th Indoor

Michael C.  Hebert

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