AROUND THE SHIELD — Taysom Hill is on the verge of a career milestone.
The former BYU quarterback and New Orleans Saints jack-of-all-trade is getting a chance to be a starting NFL quarterback, as first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The news comes as the Saints have placed 41-year-old starter Drew Brees on the mend with fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, according to multiple reports.
"Saints' QB Taysom Hill will start Sunday vs. the Falcons, per source," Schefter tweeted Friday morning. "Hill took all the starter reps at practice this week. Jameis Winston will be the backup."
Added Rapoport: "Intrigue in New Orleans: The #Saints have given QB Taysom Hill starter reps in practice this week, source said. So while Jameis Winston took over for injured Drew Brees last week, signs are pointing towards Hill getting his first NFL start at QB if all checks out after practice."
Saints' QB Taysom Hill will start Sunday vs. the Falcons, per source. Hill took all the starter reps at practice this week. Jameis Winston will be the backup.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 20, 2020
Intrigue in New Orleans: The #Saints have given QB Taysom Hill starter reps in practice this week, source said. So while Jameis Winston took over for injured Drew Brees last week, signs are pointing towards Hill getting his first NFL start at QB if all checks out after practice.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 20, 2020
That Hill is the starter in Brees' absence shouldn't be much of a surprise. He's started in a handful of games in 2020, primarily as a tight end and wide receiver as New Orleans coach Sean Payton has worked to make use of the Pocatello, Idaho, native's varied skillset as a runner, passer and pass catcher, and he's earned a reputation as the ultimate gadget playmaker in the modern NFL.
But when Brees went down during the Saints' 27-13 win over the 49ers, it was fellow backup Jameis Winston who saw round most of the rest of the game. Winston completed 6-of-10 passes for 63 yards in that contest, while Hill ran eight times for 45 yards — the second-most on the team behind running back Latavius Murray.
But Hill, who signed a two-year contract extension in the offseason valued at a reported $21 million, has also been viewed as a potential successor to Drew Brees. It's why Payton has kept him close to the franchise, as the New Orleans coach has earned a reputation as a "mad scientist" for he ways he's used him.
A career 55.6% passer (10-of-18), Hill has thrown for just 205 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, a 72.7 passer rating in his four-year NFL career. He's also only taken three sacks while balancing it with four plays of 20 yards or more in a backup/gadget role.
Still, passing only tells part of Hill's story. He's a 538-yard rusher with four touchdowns during his time in New Orleans, which came after a brief preseason appearance with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2017. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound 30 year old has also caught 28 passes for 312 yards and seven touchdowns, in addition to his time on kickoff return, punt return and making 13 total tackles.
Now he'll get a chance to prove himself as an NFL starting signal caller — something that may surprise some, but doesn't shock those who have been around him in the league.
"People should not be surprised at the Taysom Hill news," wrote The Athletic's Jeff Duncan on Twitter. "There's a reason the Saints gave him $16 million in guaranteed money this year, and it's not to be a gadget guy or run down the field on kickoffs."