Journeyman quarterback Trevor Siemian will start for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday against Atlanta, coach Sean Payton confirmed Friday afternoon.
"Yeah, we're going to start Trevor," Payton said after practice. Multiple reports early Friday had Siemian starting instead of Taysom Hill, who has been a Saints backup quarterback as well as a spot regular player at running back, receiver, and on special teams since 2017. He started four games last season after now-retired Drew Brees was injured.
Hill, though, missed the Saints' last two games with a concussion. He returned to practice this week for the first time since suffering the injury at Washington on Oct. 10.
"Taysom's playing in this game," Payton said.
The Saints (5-2) and Falcons (3-4) kick off at noon central time Sunday in the Superdome in New Orleans on FOX.
Hill may have a chance to start at quarterback in future games.
"It's just what we're doing this week," Payton said of the decision to go with Siemian.
Siemian completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards with a touchdown in a 36-27 win over Tampa Bay last Sunday.
He entered the game early in the second quarter with the score tied 7-7 after starter Jameis Winston tore his anterior cruciate ligament and damaged the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Winston's lower body contorted awkwardly following an illegal horse-collar tackle by linebacker Devin White, formerly of LSU.
Siemian threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Alex Armah Jr. to put the Saints ahead, 16-7, late in the second quarter. It was his first touchdown pass since 2017 with Denver, which drafted him in the seventh round out of Northwestern in 2015.
He completed 5 of 7 passes for 38 yards on a 70-yard drive in 12 plays for a 23-yard field goal to put the Saints ahead 29-27 with 1:41 left to play. He threw no interceptions.
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady then threw an interception to safety P.J. Williams, who returned it 40 yards for a touchdown and the 36-27 final.
"He's got a great command of what we're doing," Payton said of Siemian, who just joined the Saints last December from the Tennessee Titans' practice squad. He had last thrown a pass in a regular season game in 2019 with the New York Jets. He was with Minnesota in 2018.
"Honestly, he came in the game and shocked me,” said Saints wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith, who caught three passes for 33 yards with a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter from Winston to tie the game 7-7.
"He looked very comfortable in the pocket," Smith said. "He stood in the pocket, he took some hits and still delivered the ball. That just amazed me. He definitely looked like he was ready to play, like no hiccups.”
It was a "cool calm," Payton said.
"You never see the real highs or the real lows," he said. "That's his personality. Pretty flatline in a good way."
Siemian said he may not be as cool as he appears.
"Maybe sometimes I look calm, but I'm not actually," he said Friday. "As a quarterback, you're focused on so many details and trying to communicate clearly to your guys."
He last started regularly in the NFL in 2016 and 2017 at Denver.
"It's not really new to me," he said. "It's not that foreign."
Siemian said he knew Wednesday he would start.
"It's been a while for sure," he said.
Siemian last started on Sept. 16, 2019, for the New York Jets in a 23-3 loss to Cleveland. He completed 3 of 6 passes for three yards before injuring his ankle and not returning.
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