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Quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill hope to seize opportunity to start for New Orleans Saints

'It's always a great opportunity to have a chance to be one of 32, right?'

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 3 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.
The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 3 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

The common denominator is the waiting.

Taysom Hill has waited his entire NFL career to be a starting NFL quarterback, and Jameis Winston waited a year for the chance to get back to the position of being a starter.

That's the opportunity each is trying to take advantage of during training camp for the New Orleans Saints; one will emerge as the starter to replace Drew Brees, who retired after 15 seasons with the Saints and 20 in the NFL. And after three training camp practices, each has exhibited characteristics to suggest he can handle the job in New Orleans, which has won the last four NFC South Division titles.

"Generally speaking, I think it's important to have a stable leader in there at that position," Coach Sean Payton said. "But we'll keep going through the process here and evaluating all the reps and how those guys are both doing.

"They've both had some really good days, they've both had some really good throws. They've put a ton of time in, both of them, and they've been fantastic working together. It'll kind of take care of itself, I think."

Though Winston was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in 2015, and started 70 of 72 games in five seasons with Tampa Bay before coming to New Orleans and backing up Brees and Hill last season, and Hill was undrafted in 2017 and started four games last season when Brees was sidelined with an assortment of injuries, each said every year is approached with the same mentality: There's always competition.

"This year, there's a competition between Jameis and I and who's going to play, but the expectation for myself never changes," Hill said. "My routine, the things that I'm consistently working on. That sort of stuff doesn't change from year to year.

"And so the way that I've approached this year has been different because my role is different. But from a competition standpoint, what I'm doing and how I'm working is all the same."

"You know, continuity is always a great thing for any position and being able to experience Sean's and Drew's relationship gave me a good grasp of the system," Winston said. "But obviously, reps is what's important. This year, you know, I probably got more reps in three days than got all last year. So it's an incredible feeling to be able to have an opportunity to go out and execute because I'm more of a, you know, a visual learner.

"I like to apply what we do and apply to certain concepts and I will learn better that way. So it's been fun and I think I'm getting a good grasp of it. But obviously, my objective is to get better every single day and I know what the great head coach (can help with), his resume speaks for itself, and we got great guys in that quarterback room and we're helping each other and we (are) building."

Hill, in fact, said that he, Winston and the rest of the quarterbacks routinely critique each other's work.

"I love working with Jameis, he works really hard," Hill said. "I think he's really smart. He has got a lot of experience playing the position. And so I think the culture here has been no different (than before he arrived).

"I'd say Drew was a great mentor and allowed all of us to pick his brain and he's obviously not here, but between the four (Hill, Winston, Trevor Siemian and Ian Book) of us in our QB room, we're always working together, giving feedback.

"If someone makes a good decision, we certainly let them know that we thought it was a good decision and good throw. And if there are questions, there plenty of times where I might make a throw, but I want to see what happened on the backside of that I'll come back and I will ask Jameis or Trevor or Ian and so forth with the coaches. We have got a really, really good room and a group that really works well together."

Winston's journey from starter, to backup, to competition to be starter has been a test of patience.

"I feel like I'm getting better every single day," he said. "But one thing that helps, I'm telling you, when you're able to watch greatness, run it, you feel the mentality that you're just like, I can go and watch film of him do it, right? I'm just trying to replicate what he does, right?

"And then I get a grasp of different concepts that I like, more than what he may like. You kind of pick and choose. Definitely when I'm planning, when I'm sitting there watching film (of) things that I may like more than him. But in terms of the offense, I feel like I'm grasping it well and I'm executing it pretty good."

Depending on grasp and execution, the wait will end for Hill or Winston.

"It's always a great opportunity to have a chance to be one of 32, right?" Winston said. "And like I said, man, we've got great coaches, (we) have a great team, man, I'm so blessed to be a part of this team more than anything else.

"And you can't put a price on having an opportunity to be an NFL quarterback. I mean I think that's one of the most desired positions in all sports is to be a quarterback, and I have a great chance to be that."

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 3 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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