METAIRIE, Louisiana (AP) —Taysom Hill is optimistic about the New Orleans Saints’ new coaching staff.
The former BYU quarterback admits to being disappointed that he is no longer on the QB track with his NFL club. Hill, on the other hand, sees the wisdom in the Saints’ decision to shift his focus to the more physically tight end position.
“At first, I was surprised by how it was communicated,” Hill said after practice on Tuesday. But as we’ve progressed, as I’ve had more conversations, I think it makes perfect sense.”
Hill added, “I’m pretty reasonable.” “This isn’t always what I want; it’s what’s best for the team — and I’m fine with that.”
Hill no longer practices in a red jersey, which is reserved for quarterbacks who are not allowed to be hit during practice. He now wears a white or black No. 7 jersey, as well as a soft-shell helmet cover, which the NFL has ordered linemen, linebackers, and tight ends to wear during training camp to reduce concussion exposure.
Former Saints coach Sean Payton once drew parallels between the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Hill and another former BYU quarterback, Hall of Famer Steve Young. These comments have made Hill’s chances of taking over for Drew Brees, who will retire at the end of the 2020 season.
Hill, who turns 32 this month, was given the opportunity to compete for the starting job with Jameis Winston during the 2021 preseason.
Hill returned to his utility role for the majority of last season after Winston won out, even after Winston’s season-ending knee injury in Week 8. Payton did not name Hill as the starter until the Saints had lost four straight games with Trevor Siemian starting.
Hill’s career record is now 7-2, even though he had a painful foot injury (plantar fascia) and missed a game because of a positive COVID-19 test. He went 4-1 this season. But this offseason, New Orleans gave Winston a two-year contract extension and added veteran Andy Dalton as a backup quarterback.
The Saints informed Hill, who has a strong build and runs well, via phone this spring that they wanted him to focus on his previous role as a utility player who not only handles designed QB runs but also lines up at the tight end or receiver and plays on special teams.
“He’s responded extremely well,” Allen said. “He’s a team player.” He’ll do anything the team asks of him in order for us to succeed.
Hill is no longer with the quarterbacks during position group meetings but with the tight ends. Individual drills, on the other hand, are something Hill admits he needed to improve his three-point stance and run blocks.
“A lot of this is still very raw for me,” Hill admitted.
In the meantime, injuries have slowed Hill’s transition. He was unable to participate in off-season practices while recovering from surgery to repair a late-season Lisfranc injury. When he returned to training camp, he was sidelined by a displaced rib. He’s back in the gym, this time with a custom-fitted rib protector.
Allen, on the other hand, said that Hill wouldn’t be used much differently than in past seasons.
“I feel like there’s this big debate about Taysom Hill,” Allen explained. “It’s not the primary quarterback position, but we’ll see him in a lot of those positions that we’ve played him in throughout his time here.”
Hill had his best receiving season in 2019 with 19 catches for 234 yards.
Hill’s career rushing average is 5.4 yards per carrying, with 1,183 yards on 221 carries since 2018. Hill’s rushing highlights from last season included a 44-yard touchdown.
He’s completed 64.5% (172 of 268) of his career passes for 2,025 yards and eight touchdowns against eight interceptions. Hill anticipates a significantly reduced role in this area, which he is fine with.
“I’d say I’m at ease knowing how the league operates,” Hill said. I’m not in charge of anything. So, with that said, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help us win football games.
“And I enjoy playing,” Hill added. “As a result, it creates opportunities for me to add value and compete on the field.”
Winston did not practice on Tuesday after leaving practice on Monday with a foot injury. Allen stated that the injury was a right foot sprain. ” He lives day to day. “I don’t think it’ll be that difficult,” Allen predicted. “Certainly, we’ll make sure he’s healthy before putting him back out there.” Winston will not play in Saturday night’s preseason opener in Houston, according to Allen.