Former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill made a unique NFL debut on Sunday as a special-teamer.
Hill, now the New Orleans Saints’ third-string quarterback, was active for a regular-season game for the first time in his pro career as the Saints beat the Carolina Panthers, 31-21.
The rookie, though, wasn’t suited up to be in the backfield. Head coach Sean Payton decided to use Hill, and his 4.42 speed in the 40, on special teams. It paid off, as Hill had two tackles on kickoff returns — one in each half — and almost blocked a punt during his 12 special teams snaps.
The move earned Hill more attention than is usually reserved for a special-teams player.
"I was obviously surprised but at the same time excited," Hill told The New Orleans Advocate. "Whatever it takes to get on the field and whatever I can do to help the team win, I'll do it. The more I can do in the NFL, the longer I can stick around."
Hill told The Advocate he played a bit of defense in high school — “I can count the number of defensive snaps on one, maybe two hands,” he said — but that was it for playing something other than quarterback. That meant he had just a few days to learn how to tackle.
Payton had a big smile on his face after Hill made his first tackle.
Hill's effort made an impression on Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees.
"It's not every day you say, 'Hey, quarterback, who's never played special teams ever, we're going to have you playing in an NFL game, running down on kickoffs and rushing punts and tackling people.' That's a big chore, and he did a great job of it today," Brees said in his postgame press conference.
Williams' 100-yard day
Hill’s former BYU backfield teammate, rookie running back Jamaal Williams, also had a big first in his professional career Sunday with his first 100-yard rushing game in the Green Bay Packers’ 26-20 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Williams made his third straight start after fellow backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery went down with injuries. While Jones returned Sunday, it was Williams who received the lion’s share of the work, with 21 carries for 113 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run.
Williams also had two catches for 10 yards and broke off a career-long 25-yard run during the second quarter. He now has 337 rushing yards this season to go along with 162 receiving yards. He’s added three rushing touchdowns and a receiving score.
Jones did make his return a memorable one, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 20-yard run in overtime, his lone carry of the game. Williams also had three carries for 15 yards and a reception for 12 yards on the game-winning OT drive that covered 72 yards.
“Those guys are doing some exceptional things being as young as they are,” Green Bay right guard Jahri Evans told Packers.com about Williams and Jones. “It all starts with their vision. They’re seeing things well. We’re able to get a hat on a hat and they’re running hard. They’re not going down on first contact. Those two young guys are special and we’re seeing it early.”
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It’s common practice for players on opposing teams to swap jerseys with each other following a game. On Sunday, former Utah offensive lineman Isaac Asiata, now a rookie with the Miami Dolphins, shared a picture of himself with former Utes Garett Bolles, Devontae Booker and Tim Patrick, all with the Denver Broncos, following the Dolphins’ 35-9 win over the Broncos.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe also shared a picture of former Cougar secondary players Kai Nacua (with the Cleveland Browns) and Michael Davis (Los Angeles Chargers) after the Chargers’ 19-10 victory over the Browns.