Sean Payton returns to turn to the versatile player Taysom Hill
METAIRIE, La. – Taysom Hill will make his first start at quarterback this season Thursday night, a source told ESPN, after he practiced fully all week with an injury that has limited him since Week 10.
However, the New Orleans Saints offense may not yet be in top form against the Dallas Cowboys. Running back Alvin Kamara and offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are in doubt with knee injuries.
Kamara practiced on a limited basis all week, a positive sign. But he is still recovering from the injury that left him out for the last three games. The good news is that backup running back Mark Ingram is in full swing after he also missed Thursday night’s loss to the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury.
Armstead, meanwhile, did not practice all week, despite returning to the lineup last Thursday night. And Ramczyk, who has missed the last two games, practiced on a limited basis on Monday before missing practice on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Defensive end Marcus Davenport (shoulder) and Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) and linebacker Kaden Elliss (hamstring) were ruled out.
The barrage of injuries has taken its toll on a Saints team that has lost four straight games to fall to 5-6 and is currently out of the NFC playoff picture.
They hope Hill can help revive his weak offense, even if he hasn’t regained his full strength yet. The versatile playmaker was limited to a backup role for the past two weeks. But he said Tuesday that he feels “much better” for this week.
Coach Sean Payton paused shortly before naming Hill as the starter Tuesday, saying he wanted to see how Hill was feeling Wednesday. But Taysom has been prepared to start, barring setbacks in his recovery.
“The last few days have been encouraging for me,” said Hill, who explained that a complete tear is better in most cases, as a partial tear can be continually painful. But he said they have now started to get to the point where he just has to deal with the pain and “does not limit functionality.” Obviously that’s key, as Hill’s running ability is a huge advantage for him.
Hill, 31, replaces Trevor Siemian, who was 0-4 as the Saints’ starter after initially picking up a relief win over the injured Jameis Winston in Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hill’s opportunity comes a week after he signed a one-time contract extension with the Saints with a base value of $ 40 million over four years if he continues to play his regular role as QB / RB / TE / WR, but could be worth as much as $ 95 million. if he becomes the team’s starting quarterback and achieves high incentives.
Hill was 3-1 as a starter for the Saints last season as a replacement for Drew Brees before losing to Winston in a battle for the job in the summer.
Winston suffered a torn ACL that ended his season in Week 8. But Hill’s own health has complicated his availability this season. He also suffered a concussion in week 5 that left him on the sidelines until week 8.
It’s unclear if the Saints would have turned to Hill earlier had he been healthy. Siemian was doing a decent job during his first two weeks on the role. But the Saints’ offense has receded with each passing week, due in part to the string of injuries.
Hill’s role with the Saints has been fascinating since he was first pulled off the Green Bay Packers waivers as an undrafted rookie at BYU in 2017. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound player began to play a key role. on special teams that season. He then became a valued offensive playmaker in his multiple roles over the years, with Payton insisting that he had the potential to become Brees’ long-term heir.
Hill has had a quiet season. He has 7 of 8 passes for 56 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He has run the ball 20 times for 104 yards and 3 TDs. And he has 4 receptions for 52 yards.
In his career, Hill has 101 of 142 passes (71.1%) for 1,103 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He has run the ball 171 times for 913 yards (5.3 yards per attempt) and 14 touchdowns. And he has 34 receptions for 388 yards and 7 TDs.