Two back­ups bet­ter than one for New Or­leans Saints

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

SEAT­TLE — The de­bate started once Drew Brees went down last Sun­day. How should the New Or­leans Saints han­dle their quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion go­ing for­ward?

Start savvy vet­eran Teddy Bridge­wa­ter? Or, turn to the ex­cit­ing, mul­ti­fac­eted Taysom Hill?

It has been a topic of dis­cus­sion all week of whether it’ll be Teddy or Taysom on Sun­day when the Saints face the Seat­tle Sea­hawks. Ex­cept once place: the Saints’ locker room.

“I would say Teddy and Taysom — no ver­sus,” of­fen­sive line­man Ter­ron Arm­stead said.

New Or­leans coach Sean Pay­ton de­clined to name a starter this week af­ter

Brees un­der­went surgery Wed­nes­day in Los An­ge­les to re­pair an in­jured liga­ment near his right thumb. The surgery will keep Brees out for sev­eral weeks.

Most as­sume Bridge­wa­ter will start, in­clud­ing many of his team­mates. The 26-yearold quar­ter­back has a proven track record af­ter start­ing 28 games for Min­nesota in 201415, lead­ing the Vik­ings to a play­off ap­pear­ance.

But Pay­ton’s un­will­ing­ness to name a starter is viewed as more than just tac­ti­cal. There’s a firm be­lief on the team that Hill will have a sig­nif­i­cant role as well, forc­ing the Sea­hawks to spend time pre­par­ing for two play­ers.

“Drew Brees is in­cred­i­ble, but there’s not much of a drop off with the tal­ent Teddy and Taysom bring,” wide re­ceiver Austin Carr said.

“As a re­ceiver, ob­vi­ously you ap­pre­ci­ate that and you’re ex­cited. You don’t run your routes any slower or any less hard.”

For Bridge­wa­ter, this could be quite the come­back story.

The first-round pick out of Louisville was a ris­ing young star al­ready with a play­off ap­pear­ance when a cat­a­strophic knee in­jury dur­ing 2016 train­ing camp wiped out most of his last two years with the Vik­ings. Af­ter a stint with the New York Jets last spring and sum­mer, he was traded to New Or­leans.

He turned down the op­por­tu­nity to start else­where to re­turn to the Saints in the off­sea­son and be the backup to Brees. It was a bit of a gam­ble that could pay off. And he un­der­stands the sig­nif­i­cance, not­ing this will be the first mean­ing­ful play­ing time he has had since 2015. Not only is New Or­leans’ sea­son at stake, but how he per­forms will af­fect his fu­ture.

“A lot of peo­ple I think for­get what he did when he was a starter in this league,” run­ning back Alvin Ka­mara said. “Teddy has rank in this league.”

Hill is build­ing a sim­i­lar rep­u­ta­tion.

A multi-po­si­tion player who has lined up in at least seven po­si­tions on of­fense and spe­cial teams, he has his own come­back story. A starter at BYU, Hill suf­fered a Lis­franc frac­ture in his foot as a se­nior and missed the rest of the sea­son. He was granted a red­shirt and awarded a fifth sea­son, but a hy­per­ex­tended el­bow ended that cam­paign early as well.

Un­drafted in 2017, he was signed and waived at the end of the pre­sea­son by Green Bay. The Saints quickly signed him and he has be­come a fa­vorite among his team­mates and fans be­cause of his ver­sa­til­ity.

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