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Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill ready for new quarterback challenge with New Orleans Saints

SEATTLE PRACTICE 9-18-2019

2019 New Orleans Saints
All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert
SEATTLE PRACTICE 9-18-2019 2019 New Orleans Saints All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert

Seattle – "Opportunity" was the operative, and appropriate, word because frankly, when you play quarterback behind Drew Brees, there aren't many of them.

Since Brees joined the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he only has missed three games, and two of those were due to the Saints clinching the No. 1 seed prior to the regular-season finale.

Sunday, when the Saints (1-1) play Seattle (2-0) at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Brees will miss his fourth game, and a few more after that. He had successful surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Now, the door opens for Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill; Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday morning that both quarterbacks will be involved in the offensive gameplan against Seattle.

"It's all about doing whatever we can to help this team win," Bridgewater said. "So whether it's Taysom out there making plays or it's me out there making plays, it's all about the team.

"We both have our skill set. We can bring something different to the table. Whether it's generating plays to use Taysom, or generating plays to use me, we just want to do all we can to help this team win."

Bridgewater replaced Brees in the Saints' 27-9 loss to the Rams on Sunday, after Brees injured his thumb in the first quarter. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards in his first legitimate action since he started for Minnesota, against Seattle, in an NFC Wild Card Game at the end of the 2015 season. Last season, his first with the Saints, he started the regular-season finale against Carolina, after New Orleans had clinched the top seed for the playoffs.

"You work hard with these guys throughout the week and just to have an opportunity to go out there and play, of course you look forward to it," Bridgewater said.

"I mentioned to someone that I hadn't played any meaningful football since 2015. I was able to play in the game last year against the Carolina Panthers, but we had already sealed our place in the playoffs. And I was able to play in the preseason the past two years, but it's nothing like being out there during the games when it counts the most.

"Not saying that the preseason doesn't count and never taking the game for granted, but just to be able to go out there and compete at the high level just brought back memories."

Bridgewater said his message to his teammates is a simple one.

"For me, it's just all about being myself," he said. "And that's been my message to the guys when we're out there on the field. Just be you. You don't have to be anyone spectacular, you don't have to go out of your way. If everyone just can be the best version of themselves, we'll help this football team win football games."

While Hill more frequently has been in the Saints' offensive huddle, he has filled myriad roles for the Saints: Quarterback, tight end, kickoff returner, punt protector, punt rusher, to name a few. And while he likely will see his other roles reduced, if not eliminated for the immediate future, he's still prepared to take on all the duties.

"I'm going to do what they ask me to do," Hill said. "My expectation is to still be very much involved from a special team standpoint. Offensively, today we had our first practice, first install, kind of what we're going to do, and we'll see how things develop as the week goes on.

"Any opportunity that I've had to get on the field, I've been very excited about. I love being out on the field, I love competing, I love playing with my teammates. So my mind-set is no different than it was last week or the week before: Prepare the best I can to take advantage of every opportunity and try to make the most of each of those opportunities. So the preparation, the excitement, everything is the same. We'll just see what that role is going to be."

Running back Alvin Kamara said the Saints' offense has full confidence in both quarterbacks.

"Teddy's going to prepare and do what he has to do to have success on Sunday," Kamara said. "The O-line is going to block, we're going to catch balls and that's how it's going to go. We're still going to play football.

"I think we have capable players. I think that (Bridgewater) is more than capable of being able to produce on Sunday. So that's what we're working with."

Regarding Hill, Kamara said, "Just being able to have Taysom in there and get him some touches to take the pressure off everybody. Even when the season started, I'm like, 'Taysom can run this read and he can throw the ball.' He looked good preseason. I think just mixing him in, just to switch up the look for the defense, is going to be big."

The opportunities will be there. But even as Bridgewater and Hill look forward, they slowed to acknowledge Brees' place in their respective developments with the Saints.

"I've had the opportunity to watch Drew and study his process over the past year-and-a-half," Bridgewater said. "And Taysom (has watched Brees) as well. We've been able to come in on a Monday after a game, paying attention to what Drew does, understanding his Tuesday routine.

"Just picking up his weekly routine has been very beneficial to all of us. Of course, you pay attention to the things that he's done and you try to apply them to your game, but at the end of the day, Taysom isn't Drew and I'm not Drew. There's only one Drew Brees. We know that. He's the standard but at the end of the day, there's only one Drew Brees."

"Drew's been the heart and soul of this team for a long time, so it was hard when he went down," Hill said. "I've been with him for the last few years, I know how hard he works, I know how he prepares each week and to see a guy who puts so much into the game go down, is a tough one to swallow.

"Personally, my mind-set – and I don't want to speak for everybody on the team – but I think the mind-set is that we're going to do everything we can to win football games for that guy, because he did so much for us. The hope is that in a few weeks he can come back, we're in a great position for him to step back in and do his thing."

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