Tom Savage, Taysom Hill in unconventional battle to be Saints backup QB

Hill has an ace up his sleeve as a special-teamer as Savage tries to make the team in a more conventional way.

METAIRIE – Tom Savage appears to have a leg up on Taysom Hill in the competition to be the New Orleans Saints’ No. 2 quarterback.

But Hill might have a leg up on Savage in securing a roster spot.

That probably sounds incongruous, but Hill is a strong candidate to win a roster spot as a special-teamer and if he passes Savage on the quarterback depth chart, New Orleans could save a roster spot by releasing Savage.

Now chances are they both make it. Both were adequate in the Saints’ 24-20 victory at Jacksonville to start the preseason, and they have three more preseason games in which to demonstrate who is the better option as Drew Brees’ understudy.

Brees sat out the opener and Savage, a five-year veteran signed as a free agent from Houston, started. Savage completed 10-of-14 passes for 70 yards.

“Taysom and I are two completely different quarterbacks,” Savage said. “You look at him and he’s like Hercules. He’s ungrounded and a good player. He brings a whole unique style to this game.”

Hill demonstrated his running ability, carrying seven times for 52 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as he helped New Orleans come from behind. He also completed 8-of-9 for 72 yards.

It was the first time Hill played quarterback in a game for the Saints, who claimed him off of waivers from Green Bay at the end of last preseason. He was the third quarterback, but played in the last five regular-season games and both playoff games on coverage units. He also got a snap at wide receiver.

Hill admitted to having some “pre-game jitters” before the game last Thursday.

“It was a long time coming, so I was definitely excited,” Hill said. “I had a lot of high hopes and expectations for myself going into the game and it just felt good to be back on the field playing quarterback under center, doing all that and it was a ton of fun.”

Saints coach Sean Payton said he doesn’t see Savage and Hill as competing against each other, but rather he sees both trying each day to demonstrate that they are deserving of a roster spot.

“They're really competing within themselves to see if they're good enough and the rest of it will sort itself,” Payton said.

By the way, former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is also on the roster after signing with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent.

As for Brees, he traditionally plays very little in the preseason, though he indicated after practice Sunday that he might play a bit against Arizona on Friday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.