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Armando Salguero’s OutKick NFL QB Talk: Taysom Hill Learns To Spin It Wearing A Splint; Aaron Rodgers Doubles Down On Bears Ownership; Tannehill Hopes Jones Helps; Mahomes Talks Turnovers

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The last time Taysom Hill was on a football field for the New Orleans Saints, he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, threw four interceptions, and ruptured the extensor tendon at the tip of the middle finger on this throwing hand.

Other than that, everything went great.

The injury, which will require Hill to wear a splint for eight weeks if he wants to avoid surgery, adds to the plantar fascia injury he was already nursing in one of his feet.

Despite all this, the Saints expect Hill to be their starter against the New York Jets on Sunday even as everyone’s aware everything is most definitely not quite right with the quarterback’s passing.

“It’s a little limiting because you don’t have every joint that you’re able to grip the ball,” Hill admitted to reporters on Wednesday. “Your grip doesn’t feel strong when you’re gripping and throwing the ball. So we’re trying to do things to compensate for that.”

Hill, who had a concussion earlier this season, knows how to manage injuries and how much pain he’s able to tolerate. But in this case, it’s not about pain but other issues.

“I don’t have a lot of pain with the finger,” Hill said. “I’ve kept it splinted since it happened … I haven’t had any when it’s in the splint. I think the sensation of gripping the ball, throwing the ball, that has changed. That’s been the biggest thing.

“And as I mentioned earlier, it’s trying to figure out what is the best process to have that feel as normal as possible. That’s what we’re working through. Because you do something to your hand and your finger on your throwing, all of a sudden things change and you’re trying to adjust.”

Hill said he got through practice without significant problems on Wednesday, but he’s been honest with Saints coaches and asked them to watch for signs that something might not be quite up to standards they’re comfortable with.

“I’ve had conversation with some of the coaches like, ‘Listen, I’m going out to play. I’m going out to compete. I’m going out to practice at full-go this week. And if you guys see something to where I can’t be as effective as I need to be, then I get it,'” Hill said. “I’m a team guy and I’ll be available to play at whatever capacity that looks like.

“But my mindset is to prepare to play at full capacity, and we’ll go from there. I don’t know how else to approach it.”

One more thing. The Saints visit the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. There’s apparently some rain in the forecast.

“Certainly having a hand injury and, you know, having a weather game is not ideal,” Hill said. “But we’ll continue to work through that.”

Ryan Tannehill needs Julio Jones to be that guy

The on-again, off-again season for Titans receiver Julio Jones is on again and that means quarterback Ryan Tannehill has to recapture whatever chemistry he and Jones had before a hamstring injury sent Jones to the injured reserve list.

“It has been a little while since we threw and caught together,” Tannehill said. “These practice reps will be huge. We got some practice reps on Monday which was nice. Excited to see him back out here making plays and looking good running. Like I mentioned, excited to have him back.”

Jones has missed six game so far this season and hasn’t been the Pro Bowl-caliber receiver he used to be when he has been on the field. But he did have one huge game in September against Seattle in which he caught eight passes for 128 yards.

Tannehill needs that Jones to show up when he’s activated for games because the Titans are lacking playmakers with A.J. Brown (chest) and running back Derrick Henry (foot) out of the lineup.

The Titans won’t admit it, but the offense has suffered while the lineup has been shuffled at a rate higher than any other team.

“It is a challenge. It is not an ideal situation,” Tannehill admitted. “I don’t know what our number is up to now, the number of guys we have played for us, but it is a testament to the resiliency of this team. The way that the mindset is, and (Mike) Vrabel starts it from the top, is no matter who is in there, take advantage of your opportunity.

“Go make plays and go find a way to win.”

Patrick Mahomes concerned about turnovers, but not too concerned

The Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll.

But Patrick Mahomes is not.

While Kansas City has strung together five consecutive wins to take over first place in the AFC West, Mahomes has been more along for the ride than driving the advance.

Mahomes has thrown 7 TDs in those five consecutive victories which sounds good enough. But he’s had only one game in which he threw multiple touchdown passes during that streak — that was a 5-TD performance against the Raiders.

Other than that Raiders game, Mahomes has been kind of middling. His 7 TDs the last five games is tied for 12th among all quarterbacks during that span.

And there’s the subject of his 4 interceptions that raised his season total to 12, which already ties his 2018 career high.

Is that affecting the approach Mahomes is using or his playing style?

“It doesn’t,” he said. “I mean, it just happens. It’s part of football. Luckily enough, our defense is playing good enough that whenever they happen, they’re able to get stops and get turnovers or whatever it is and not let it impact the team.

“But you understand that turnovers are a huge part of this game. Our defense is getting a lot of turnovers and winning that turnover battle. I’ll try to limit them as much as possible, but at the same time I have to be me and continue to throw the football and give guys chances to make plays.”

Aaron Rodgers doubles down on owning the Bears

Aaron Rodgers had choice words for Chicago Bears fans in mid-October when he put their home team away with a touchdown run after throwing two touchdown passes earlier in a 24-14 victory.

I still own you,” he famously told the crowd at Soldier Field.

Well, the Packers play the Bears on Sunday in the rematch and if there was ever going to be some payback, that would be the time. Rodgers understands that.

“At some point, what I said will be used against me — that’s just part of it,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “But I have no regrets for saying what I said, and obviously I think the record kind of speaks for itself. But I get it. At some point, that will be used against me. It is what it is. I don’t regret saying it at all.”

The record definitely shows that Rodgers was merely stating facts rather than boasting. The Packers and Rodgers have won five consecutive games against the Bears and are 22-5 against Chicago with Rodgers as their starter.

“I don’t know that you can question a whole lot of what I said,” Rodgers added. “We have gotten the better of them the last, I don’t know, 27, 28 times we’ve played them for the most part …”

Rodgers, by the way, still isn’t practicing so far this week as he continues to recover from a fractured toe. The Packers are coming off their bye week and Rodgers didn’t practice prior to their game against the Los Angeles Rams, so the injury has had time to heal without a game aggravating the injury.

Rodgers hasn’t actually had a full week of practice since the week of preparation for the Oct. 28 game at Arizona because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list after that and has been nursing the foot injury.

“Again, we don’t know until Sunday after the game and Monday how it’s going to react to all the healing that’s taken place and then the pounding that will happen on Sunday,” Rodgers said. “So we’ll see what happens, how it recovers on Sunday or Monday.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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