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NEW ORLEANS – The Saints had to try something new.
After a four-game losing streak under a mostly ineffective Trevor Siemian at quarterback that has dropped New Orleans to 5-6, coach Sean Payton will start action figure quarterback Taysom Hill tonight against the COVID Cowboys (7-4) of Dallas.
Dallas coach Mike McCarthy and five assistants will not be coaching due to COVID protocols, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will take over for McCarthy.
Kickoff is at 7:20 p.m. central time on FOX.
“I’m going to do my best to take advantage of every single opportunity and do everything I can to help us win football games,” Hill said.
Hill, who has played receiver, running back, kick returner and quarterback for the Saints since his arrival in 2017 from Green Bay off waivers, has not started at quarterback since Dec. 13 of last season at Philadelphia in place of an injured Drew Brees. He completed 28 of 38 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in a 24-21 loss. He also rushed five times for 33 yards.
He started the three previous games before that one with the Saints winning all three games – 24-9 over Atlanta, 31-3 at Denver and 21-16 at Atlanta. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns. in the first Atlanta win. Hill completed 9 of 16 passes for 78 yards with an interception while rushing 10 times for 44 yards and two touchdowns at Denver, and he hit 27 of 37 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 83 yards and 14 carries in the second win over the Falcons.
“Taysom is a great player, man,” Saints running back Mark Ingram said. “He brings a different dynamic to the game. But his ability to throw, his ability to run, just a special athlete, a good quarterback. I think we’re all excited about that.”
Ingram is expected to play after missing last week’s game with a knee injury. Top running back Alvin Kamara, though, will not play for the fourth straight game. He will likely continue to be missed as he is the Saints’ leading rusher with 530 yards on 146 carries with three touchdowns and is the team’s No. 3 receiver on 32 catches for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
Starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk will miss his third straight game with a knee injury, and starting left tackle Terron Armstead will miss with a knee injury. Starting defensive end Marcus Davenport (shoulder) will also not play.
At least Payton is healthy along with his entire coaching staff. The Cowboys had to elevate analyst Ben McAdoo to a coaching position in the press box. Dallas, which has lost two straight, may get wide receiver Amari Cooper (44 catches for 583 yards in nine games) back after a bout with COVID. Wide receiver Malik Turner (7 catches for 90 yards in eight games) is questionable as well with an illness.
Saints’ coach Sean Payton downplayed Dallas’ coaching vacancies.
“These guys have been playing really good football, really in all three phases of the game,” he said. “That doesn’t really impact us.”
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