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New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill plays role other teams looking to mimic

"It's a lot of fun to just be out on the field competing"

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7-28-19 Training Camp in Metairie, LA 2019 New Orleans Saints All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert

The prototype isn't envious of the clones, which isn't at all the same as saying Taysom Hill isn't paying attention to the trend.

On the contrary, the New Orleans Saints quarterback is watching, and he's proud of what his versatility has spawned.

"I like creating other opportunities for guys like myself in the NFL," said Hill, who's entering his third NFL season but is in his second training camp with the Saints. "It's not an easy league to make it in and if you can create opportunities for guys that can do different things, that's been a really cool thing.

"I know I've had a lot of fun with it. I look across the NFL and other guys that are asked to do similar things, it's a lot of fun to just be out on the field competing."

Hill didn't create the niche for himself. The Saints saw a 6-foot-2, 221-pound quarterback who goes 0 to 60 mph in seconds and is as capable of freight-training a defender as running away from him, and the traits essentially demanded that they create the niche to get him on the field.

That's how the backup quarterback has found himself covering kickoffs. And punts. And operating the run-pass option of the Saints' offense. And serving as the punt protector. And returning kickoffs. And rushing the punter (he blocked a punt last season). And taking some snaps as a tight end.

Too, Hill's willingness to do anything to help the Saints win immediately won over his teammates and showed that the do-anything-for-the-team mantra was much more than lip service.

"I was an undrafted free agent (in 2017, who originally signed with Green Bay) that had a lot of injuries in college," Hill said. He suffered season-ending injuries as a freshman, junior, and senior (he was awarded a medical redshirt and had an extra season) at BYU.

"So as I entered the NFL, honestly, my mind-set was to go take advantage of every opportunity and do my best to make a team and then help a team win," he said. "I haven't really taken a step back to look at the situation and what I've been asked to do. I've just tried to take advantage of every opportunity.

"Honestly, I've had so much fun doing it. I'm just grateful for the opportunities that have been created for me. Having season-ending injuries in college, my mind-set looking to the NFL, I knew that someone was just going to have to take a chance on me and luckily, they did."

The Saints were more than happy to be the team to do so.

The Packers waived him on Sept. 2, 2017. The Saints signed him the next day and while serving as New Orleans' third quarterback, he debuted on special teams and made four tackles in the last five games.

From there, his resume grew. Last season, Hill had 37 carries for 196 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes, completed 3 of 7 throws for 64 yard, returned 14 kickoffs for 348 yards and had six special teams tackles.

"I think throughout the course of the year, teams prepared: How do you want to play him when he's the quarterback versus when he's the tight end or slot," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "All those things take place in game and each team maybe prepares a little differently. But he's one of those guys that is just a good football player. We will keep looking for things that we think he does well."

And Hill likely will continue to do those things, without complaint. But at heart he's a quarterback, and he wants to occupy that role in the NFL.

"I feel a lot more confident playing inside the offense right now than I did last year, and then obviously rookie year coming here," he said. "I think the progression as a quarterback, you get more time on task inside the offense and you get more confidence getting up the line of scrimmage, things start to slow down a little bit. I think that's the great challenge of this game for a quarterback, is getting to the point where you can play fast enough and take the mental part out of the game.

"I want to play quarterback. Coach Payton and the other guys on the staff have made it clear that they care a lot about my profession at the quarterback position, which gives me a lot of pride. So that's definitely a priority for me, making sure that I stay up on all the other things that I'm asked to do."

Payton said that Hill's grasp of the offense has grown.

"His ability to take the play into the huddle out to the line of scrimmage, get us in the right play," Payton said. "I thought he threw the ball pretty well the last couple of days. And then the things that are harder to see are the things that can happen in a game when a play breaks down and he can advance it. He's doing well."

So well that other teams are looking for their own versions of Hill.

"I haven't had any conversations with other guys that have been doing similar things," he said. "Our paths haven't crossed. Maybe in the future we'll have opportunities to sit down and compare notes, things they've been asked to do versus things that I've been asked to do. But it's been a lot of fun. I'm excited to see the transition and see how things go."

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