At 33, Versatile Taysom Hill Gratified By Opportunities In Saints' New Offense

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill runs through drills during an NFL football practice in Metairie, La., Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill runs through drills during an NFL football practice in Metairie, La., Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The New Orleans Saints' experimental usage of Taysom Hill at virtually every offensive skill position — and even on special teams — has been so unconventional that he wondered whether his ubiquity might be reined in under a new offensive coordinator.

Klint Kubiak — whose hiring this offseason represented a definitive break from the Sean Payton offense that remained in place for two years after Payton left New Orleans — wasn't about to let Hill's incertitude fester.

The new coordinator traveled to Utah to visit Hill and to lay out his vision for the former BYU quarterback.

The pair had “a great, frank conversation,” during which Kubiak “mapped out how he envisioned me being used,” Hill said. “It was him seeing value in what I do and what I can do in this offense and he wanted to be clear about that. It was all really positive.”

Those talks helped motivate the 33-year-old Hill to attend all the voluntary offseason practices that were held during the past three weeks and ended Thursday. By showing up, Hill received opportunities to get comfortable with the various ways he could get the ball — or sometimes serve as a blocker — in advance of next week's mandatory minicamp.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hill said. “It’s weird to say after seven years of doing what I’ve been doing that I’m being asked to do things I’ve never done before.

“I haven't been challenged this way mentally for a long time,” Hill said. "That is exciting to me ... and I love to be challenged like that.”

Kubiak arrived in New Orleans after serving as a top offensive assistant last season under San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl before falling 25-22 in overtime to Kansas City.

Elements of that 49ers offense — known for outside zone runs and pass plays set up by play-action fakes — are now being installed in New Orleans. So far, Hill has mostly lined up at fullback or tight end. He has gotten the ball on numerous running and passing plays, including a reception out of the backfield after lining up as a fullback — a play reminiscent of those the Niners run with fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

“There's some things that Kyle Juszczyk does that we feel like Taysom can do and do well," Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “I wouldn't say that that role is entirely the same.”

Hill also has lined up sporadically as an outside and slot receiver.

“He’s a really intelligent guy,” Kubiak said. "We’re looking forward to giving him a lot of volume early. And then we’ll start narrowing it down as we get closer to the season.”

So far, Hill has not been taking snaps at quarterback during practices open to media. But that doesn't mean the Saints will dial back on the designed QB runs that have accounted for much of Hill's career production.

“We're going to utilize him in that role, absolutely,” Allen said.

Last season, when Payton protege Pete Carmichael Jr. was calling the offense, Hill gained a career-high 692 yards from scrimmage. While much of Hill’s production came on quarterback runs, he also caught 33 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Hill said there has been “no discussion” about dialing back his special teams work. He's served as the upback on the punt team, giving the Saints the option of running or passing out of that formation if they decided on a fake.

He also rushes opponent punts and has gotten his hands on a couple.

He said he might even get a look as a kickoff returner this season because of the new kickoff rules.

"Taysom Hill can flourish in any role he embraces,” Allen said. “With a new staff in here and a new scheme, we're going to look at what can Taysom do and where can we utilize him in this scheme where he can help us win football games.”