Thursday, December 1 2022

title=sfootball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert)” title=”Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints leaves the field after the team’s 39-32 win over the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert)” loading=”lazy”/>

Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints leaves the field after the team’s 39-32 win over the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert)

PA

When Saints’ so-called “Swiss army knife” Taysom Hill became a sensational focal point of New Orleans’ offense last weekend, one question he never thought to ask was: “Why did we have to wait for the fifth game of the season?

“I’m trying not to get too caught up in it,” Hill said after practice Wednesday as the Saints (2-3) prepare to host Cincinnati (2-3) this Sunday. “I trust our coaches in what we do, and some weeks there are benefits, more emphasis.

“Early on in your career, it’s a little harder not to always think about those things,” Hill added. “I’m now at a point in my career where I’m comfortable – I don’t want it to be seen as complacency, because I’m hungry, I want all the opportunities and various things like that. But I know they will come.”

The Saints clearly saw advantages in riding Hill in a 39-32 win over Seattle on Sunday that marked New Orleans’ best day of the season offensively. Hill rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns, and passed for 22 yards. He even returned three kickoffs for 69 yards after Deonte Harty left the game with a foot injury.

On Wednesday, Hill was selected as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, but was quick to shift the credit to the offensive line, noting the Saints had 235 rushing yards as a team.

“You don’t do that unless the guys up front are playing really well,” Hill said. “So I see it as a collective reward.”

Hill is listed on the Saints’ roster as a tight end — a quarterback switch, his college position at BYU and in the NFL through this season.

It was while a third-string QB with the Saints that former coach Sean Payton accepted unconventional suggestions from assistant coaches to make more use of Hill’s obvious athleticism.

It started by putting Hill on kick and punt coverage and progressed to kick returns, then intermittently replacing him on offense for engineered QB runs, or periodic snaps at the running back, tight end or receiver.

Hill also started nine games in the previous two seasons, going 7-2.

Saints tight end Juwan Johnson says while Hill has been spending a lot of time in the tight end room at team headquarters this season, he’s still anything but a specialist.

“You don’t see too many tight ends running like him, catching and throwing like him,” Johnson said. “You could try to imitate what he does, but it’s so unique and so different. It is probably one of a kind.

Hill said he barely worked at QB this past training camp, but that changed when Jameis Winston walked out with back and ankle injuries after Week 3. The back-up veteran Andy Dalton has started the final two weeks, with Hill getting more work at QB. in practice.

“It’s a fluid business,” Hill said, adding that he’s played QB “all my life, so I still feel comfortable doing it.”

It was evident when he threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Adam Trautman on Sunday, which wasn’t as easy as it looked.

The Saints expected a different defensive lineup than Seattle presented on this play.

“I had the ability to change my itinerary based on what they gave us and (Hill) saw that as well,” Trautman said. “He anticipated exactly what I was going to do and I anticipated it knowing exactly where I was going to be.”

It was the first and only assist this season for Hill, who normally runs when he lines up behind center.

“It was great to show that,” Trautman said. “Now (the defences) can’t adapt to the run so quickly.”

If Hill can throw more, he’ll accept that. But he also doesn’t mind trying to catch more passes. He’s only had one catch this season for 2 yards.

“It would be easy for me to look at him and say, ‘Man, this is a difficult situation because I have one foot in one room and one foot in the other. But I’m grateful for all the opportunities,” Hill said. “I’m just going to do my best no matter what the opportunity arises. … If I start worrying about anything other than that, then you start going a little crazy.

NOTES: Seven players did not practice Wednesday: receivers Michael Thomas (foot), Jarvis Landry (ankle), Chris Olave (concussion) and Harty; cornerback Marshon Lattimore (abdomen); defensive end Payton Turner (chest); and offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton (hip).

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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