Remained as the only quarterback on the Saints’ roster after Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian landed on the reserve / COVID roster, Ian Book didn’t have to think long and hard about who was next in line .
“I did the math pretty quickly there,” Book joked Friday, via The Associated Press.
The Saints are preparing to start Book Monday night against the Dolphins, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network Tom Pelissero reported Thursday. While there is a chance that Hill or Siemian could test the COVID-19 protocols in time to be activated by Monday’s game, the third-string rookie is mentally preparing.
“I plan to play,” Book said. “You can’t just flip that switch on Monday morning, trying to get ready. It doesn’t work that way, especially at quarterback.”
Book was a fourth-round pick in the Saints’ 2021 NFL Draft and the 23-year-old has plenty of big-game experience during his three years as a starter at Notre Dame. Book’s 30 total wins are the biggest in the program’s rich history, and his 72 touchdown passes are second for the Irish behind Brady Quinn (95).
In what would be his first NFL action, not to mention his first start, Book will be lucky enough to have Sean Payton calling games in his ear after the Saints head coach was forced to miss the game. last week due to a positive COVID-19 test. Payton was cleared to return to the squad on Friday.
“He played in some real big games and he did it consistently – if you measure wins and losses – better than any quarterback in Notre Dame history,” Payton said on Friday. . “Obviously there is a transition to this level, but I think he’s up to the challenge.”
While Payton trusts Book, he maintains that coaching staff and total team effort will be required for a team facing several other absences due to COVID-19, including key players such as linebacker Demario Davis, tackle Ryan Ramczyk and safety Malcolm Jenkins. Veteran QB Blake Bortles was signed by the Saints on Friday as a potential replacement for Book.
“He will do well. He is excited about the opportunity,” Payton added. “It’s up to us to give him the right things about the game and where we are offensively.”
Said Book: “I have this whole team behind me. I feel like all these guys are backing me up and just hearing from everyone, how excited they are that I have a chance this is pretty cool. “
Book will be the fourth starting QB for New Orleans in 2021, a tumultuous season for an offense that endured Jameis Winston tearing his ACL in Week 8, Michael Thomas’ absence throughout the season due to a long-lasting ankle injury, running back star Alvin Kamara (knee) is out for a full month and Pro Bowl tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead who are unavailable for much of the game due to injury.
The Saints’ 311.7 total yards per game rank 26th in the NFL. After a 5-2 start to the season before Winston’s knee injury, New Orleans is 7-7 Monday night after winning its last two games.
At the start of Week 16, the Saints are on the bubble in the NFC playoff photo and face a fiery Dolphins team (7-7) looking to win their seventh straight game. With Book ready to go, the table is set for a prime-time game in New Orleans with major playoff implications for both teams.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Book said. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I’ve played in big games, but I think it’s the biggest, obviously. We’re professionals now and it’s Monday Night Football.”