The New Orleans Saints appear to have found a diamond in the rough on special teams.
Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill proved his potential value as a kickoff returner in the win vs. the Browns.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) September 16, 2018
The former BYU quarterback fielded three kicks, one of which resulted in a crucial 47-yard return with 6:43 left in the third quarter that helped spark the Saints’ comeback. Hill took the kick seven yards deep in the endzone and burst through a seam on the right side all the way to the 40-yard line.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Hill brings a unique element as a kickoff returner.
“He can run and he can run with a physical presence,” Coach Sean Payton said Monday to New Orleans Saints.com. “So it’s a different type of returner.”
The evolution of kickoff rules, such as no running starts or wedge blocks and no blocking in the first 15 yards, gives Hill an increased chance at making big plays.
“The rule change is significant and I think half of it is, you get into these man-to-man situations, and if your players believe and have confidence in a scheme and each guy focuses on their individual job, then you give yourself a chance to have success,” Payton said.
The jack of all trades second-year player was already serving as a punt protector, coverage man for punt and kickoffs and as a holder.
Now it appears Payton is going to give Hill the opportunity to take control of kickoff returns.
“To (special teams coach) Mike (Westhoff) and his staff and the units, I think there’s a strong belief that each time we’re back to receive a kick – the one we returned yesterday was seven yards deep in the end zone – but we look at it as an offensive play,” Payton said to New Orleans Saints.com. “And I think there’s a confidence element that’s emerged there.”