Panthers Saints Football

New Orleans Saints quarterback and special teams player Taysom Hill runs down the field during kickoff in the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017.

AP photo/Bill Feig

It's not often that you see a flock of media members gathered around the third-string quarterback's locker after a game.

Especially when that third-string quarterback didn't complete a pass in the game.

Heck, this one didn't even take a single snap.

But rookie Taysom Hill still managed to make a splashing NFL debut.

Hill, in an NFL rarity, played on special teams, recording a pair of tackles on kickoff returns and wreaking havoc on the punt team in the Saints' 31-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Not bad for a guy who just started playing on special teams for the first time in his life just four days earlier.

Hill had never played special teams in high school in Idaho or in college at BYU.

But coach Sean Payton decided to give Hill a shot at it. It was the first time in Payton's career he had converted a third-string quarterback to special teams.

"This is a guy that's 6-2, 235 and runs a 4.42," Payton said. "That's pretty good. That's probably the fastest quarterback time in the last 20 years coming out of the combine. This guy is explosive. It just made sense."

Yes, it did.

"I was obviously surprised but at the same time excited," Hill said. "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 had played linebacker and a little cornerback in high school, but that was about it as far as doing anything other than playing quarterback.

"I can count the number of defensive snaps on one, maybe two hands," he said.

So he had to go through some extra drills with Saints defensive coaches this week to learn how to tackle.

He proved to be a quick study, getting a tackle in the first half and another on the opening kickoff of the second half. He almost blocked a punt as well.

In his NFL — and special teams — debut, he made an impression on his special-teams teammates.

"Man, he was electric," Chris Banjo said. "He definitely had an impact on the game and left his footprint on it. He helped us take a step that we want to as a special-teams unit."

Banjo welcomed Hill to the unit a ssoon as heard about that blazing time in the 40. 

"When I heard he ran a 4.42, I was thinking 'Damn right, let him play special teams with us.' "

Payton was pleased with what he saw, flashing a smile after Hill's first tackle.

But Payton had one issue with Hill.

"My only concern was when we sent specialists out for pre-game, he stayed in with the quarterbacks," Payton said jokingly. "I told him, 'You're a specialist right now.' "

But Hill's a quarterback too. Hie went undrafted after an injury-plagued college career. During the preseason, he rushed for 71 yards on just 10 carries and threw for 149 yards for Green Bay. The Saints picked him up the day after the Packers released him.

Hill said that playiing QB is a whole lot different that special teams. 

"It was a different experience," Hill said. "As a quarterback there is so much from a mental standpoint in reading the defense. (On special teams), I had nothing to worry about. I felt like there wasn't a ton of pressure on me. So I just wanted to go out and have fun. I didn't have anything to lose."

So you can expect to see more of No. 7 on special teams.

It's a number Hill wears in honor of his big brother Dexter, who died in 2016. Dexter, also a former quarterback, wore No. 7 too.

"He'd be fired up for sure," Hill said. "One thing my brother instilled in me and taught me was to always just go out and compete. That was my mindset going into this week. I was happy the way I competed."

He very well should have been.

And he had the cameras and microphones around him to prove it. 

Not bad for a third-string quarterback who didn't throw a pass.

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.