Saint’s Hill looking to fill ‘fluid’ role

Published 4:44 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022

By John DeShazier

The New Orleans Saints

Taysom Hill describes his role as a “fluid deal.”

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For the New Orleans Saints, the best answer to fluidity might be the player whose physique suggests he was chiseled from granite.

Hill, the Saints’ tight end/quarterback/kick returner/punt protector/punt rusher, now can add first-time NFC Offensive Player of the Week to his resume after his do-it-all performance against Seattle in New Orleans’ 39-32 victory on Sunday.

Hill rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries, completed his only pass attempt for a 22-yard touchdown, recovered a fumble and returned three kickoffs for 69 yards.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about me, but I feel like any time you win awards like that it’s the collective group,” he said Wednesday. “We ran the football for over 200 yards (235, on 48 carries as a team), you don’t do that unless the guys up front play really well. I look at that more as like a collective award. The biggest thing is that we were able to get the win and we did what we had to do to do that.”

He played a total of 23 offensive snaps, but said he won’t get caught up with concerning himself whether his play last Sunday will translate into more.

“I trust our coaches and what we’re doing,” Hill said. “I think some weeks, there’s some advantages, more emphasis and things like that, and those guys spend so much time breaking the film down, putting together a plan to make sure that myself and the rest of our skill guys are put in the right opportunity to be successful.

“So, I think that’s really where my mind is at right now. I think the more that I can be there, if it creates opportunities for other guys in other places, this thing is just evolving and we’ll just see where we go.”

Partly, some evolution occurred at halftime against Seattle, due to effectiveness and necessity. Hill expected the offensive opportunities, simply because of the gameplan.

“As I enter a gameplan or a game or whatever, I think that’s kind of the expectation, that these plays are going to get called,” he said. “At halftime, we make some adjustments but as you guys know, that halftime goes so fast, I think most of the time we come out and say, ‘These are the things that we want to get to.’

“Going into a game, you expect those plays to get called anyway, so I will say I don’t think it really changes my mind-set. I think it helps having a heads up, because you have an expectation of what to plan and prepare for going into the second half.”

Effectiveness in the run game led to four carries for 73 yards and a touchdown in the second half, including a 60-yard scoring run that gave the Saints the game’s final points. The run game opened the gate to his 22-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. And after Deonte Harty injured his foot in the first quarter, Hill returned a kickoff 23 yards, then added returns of 18 and 26 yards in the fourth.

“Obviously, Deonte went down and we needed some help on kickoff return,” he said. “That was one of those things that wasn’t going to go away (with extra offensive responsibilities), because we needed some help there.

“I’m there and if Rizz (special team coordinator Darren Rizzi) needs some help, he kind of grabs me early in the week and says, ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking, be ready and available because I might need you.’ It’s trying to find my balance. This thing is evolving and it changes, with (quarterback) Jameis (Winston) being banged up and stuff. It’s a fluid deal.”

Hill didn’t take reps at quarterback in training camp, and said that in fairness to coaches, he was banged up with the rib injury.

“I think the last few weeks, it’s been an added emphasis for me, to make sure that I’m still staying sharp,” he said. “But this offseason, the emphasis wasn’t at the quarterback spot, It was making sure I could do the other stuff, too. I’ve been doing (quarterback) my whole life, so I still feel comfortable doing it and I’ve got a nice little routine now where I feel comfortable doing all of that.”

Because his role has been that way for most of his tenure with the Saints, Hill said he tries not to get frustrated.

“I think the thing that becomes hard is when you start to lose games,” he said. “Nobody likes losing, I certainly don’t like losing, but I trust our staff and the opportunities that they create for not only me, but the rest of our guys.

“I’m realistic in knowing that we’ve got a lot of talent offensively, and guys need to get the ball and get touches. I try not to get too caught up in that. Early in your career it’s a little bit harder to not always think about those things. But I would say I’m at a point in my career now where I’m comfortable with where I’m at. I don’t want that to be viewed as complacent in any way, because I’m hungry, I want all the opportunities and things like that. I know that they’ll come my way.

“I’m grateful for all the opportunities that I have been given. I’m at a point in my career where I’m just going to do my best in whatever opportunity it is. That’s really where my mind-set is. I think if I start to worry about anything other than that, then you start to go a little crazy.”