Sports

Source: Saints QB Hill to play through hurt finger

METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill will try to play through a mallet finger injury that he suffered in Thursday night’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys without having surgery, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Saints doctors determined that Hill suffered a mallet finger (the name for a ruptured extensor tendon at the tip of the finger), according to the source. However, Hill’s injury was not as extensive as the one that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson suffered earlier this year, which did require surgery. Wilson suffered both a mallet finger and a a fracture-dislocation on a separate joint in the same finger.

ESPN injury analyst and physical therapist Stephania Bell said it is viable for Hill to play without surgery, given that it is one isolated injury.

“My expectation is that we will see them customize a splint that is similar to what they fashioned (Thursday) night that is open on the undersurface so he can feel and grip the ball. Then when he’s not playing, he’ll probably be in a sturdier splint,” Bell said. “It’s not ideal for a quarterback to play with a splinted finger. But with time, he’ll probably get more used to it and adapt to it. And as long as everyone agrees that he can be functional and comfortable, there’s not really a counter to him continuing to play.”

Hill was injured when he hit the middle finger of his right throwing hand against another player in the first quarter of Thursday’s 27-17 loss. He played the remainder of the game with a splint on the finger and finished with four interceptions.

“It took a little getting used to,” Hill acknowledged after the game. “Anytime you’re putting something else on the finger [it affects] traction on the ball and stuff. But it was OK.”

Hill finished the game 19 of 41 passing for 264 yards, two touchdowns and the four interceptions in his first start of the 2021 season — three of which came in the fourth quarter while he admittedly started “pressing.” He also ran the ball 11 times for 101 yards despite playing through the pain of a partially torn plantar fascia that he suffered in Week 10.

“I thought he played with a lot of heart, a lot of guts. We didn’t help him any in the first half,” Saints coach Sean Payton said after the game.

If he is deemed healthy enough to play at close to full strength, Hill has a good chance to remain in the starting role for the Saints (5-7) when they play again at the New York Jets in Week 14. Despite the ugly result and fourth-quarter implosion, Hill’s running ability did provide at least some element of juice to an offense that has flatlined ever since original starting QB Jameis Winston suffered a torn ACL in Week 8.

The Saints are 0-5 since Winston was injured. Veteran backup Trevor Siemian helped to lead the Saints to a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after replacing Winston in the second quarter of that Week 8 game. But then he went 0-4 as a starter while the offense regressed with each passing week – in large part due to an overwhelming barrage of injuries.

The Saints are hoping to get running back Alvin Kamara and offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk back from knee injuries soon.

Hill is now 3-2 in his career as a starter after going 3-1 as an injury replacement for Drew Brees last year. He completed 82 of 114 passes in those games (71.9%) for 834 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran the ball 39 times for 209 yards and four TDs but lost three fumbles.

The 31-year-old signed a unique contract extension last week that is worth a base value of $40 million over four years if he continues to play his usual role as a QB/RB/TE/WR but could be worth up to $95 million if he becomes the team’s starting quarterback and reaches lofty incentives.

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