Each week of the NFL season presents a new challenge for teams across the board. That will be the case in a major way for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints come to town for a 1 p.m. matchup at Acrisure Stadium.
Without the familiar face of Drew Brees under center and wide receiver Michael Thomas on the boundary, the Saints are a much, much different team than the last time the Steelers and Saints matched up.
Andy Dalton will be under center and Alvin Kamara remains in the backfield, but do-everything offensive weapon Taysom Hill presents a unique challenge for the Steelers to have to gameplan for and deal with in the Week 10 matchup, according to third-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday from inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex ahead of the matchup with the Saints, Highsmith stated that Hill can do everything and really presents a unique challenge the Steelers will have to be up to task for when he’s on the field Sunday, according to video via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski.
“He’s definitely unique in what he does,” Highsmith said of Hill, according to video via Adamski. “Not only is he a quarterback, but he’s tight end, a guy who can run. He does everything, so we know that when he’s in the game we’ve got to lock in. He’s just a very uniquely talented guy.”
Hill can do it all for the Saints, and has done so in the past. He can step in as a quarterback when needed, is used in the Saints’ short-yardage and power running scheme, and can catch the football and make plays after the catch as well. He’s a unique talent, much like Highsmith stated Wednesday, so the Steelers will need to be ready for him and the packages he’s used in.
Highsmith’s words echoed the comments made by head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday. Speaking with reporters during his weekly press conference, Tomlin stated that the Steelers have to have a gameplan in place for how to deal with Hill.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Hill and the challenges that he brings with his versatility,” Tomlin stated to reporters Tuesday, according to video via the Steelers official YouTube page. “He plays in the game at a variety of positions, quarterback among them. They got some schematics that are really challenging when he’s playing at quarterback, but he’s also capable as a tight end or H-back and they can do some more traditional things, some play action passing, some misdirection passing, some run game, so we gotta put a thoughtful and intentional plan together regarding his usage and the effort to minimize his impact on the game.”
On the season as a quarterback, Hill has completed 7-of-9 passing attempts for 101 yards and a touchdown. He’s done most of his damage as a runner though, carrying the ball 40 times for 343 yards and five touchdowns on the season, adding another three receptions for 16 yards and a score, serving as a truly versatile football player for the Saints under head coach Dennis Allen.
The Steelers will have to pay a lot of attention to Hill, based on his usage and impact on the game.