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Veteran quarterback Hill eager to ‘get back out there’ for Vikings

By Chris Tomasson St. Paul Pioneer Press The jokes about Shaun Hill's age just keep coming. When Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked last week why his 35-year-old backup quarterback didn't throw at a practice, he quipped the team "ran out of oil ...

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(John Autey, Pioneer Press) Vikings quarterback Shaun Hill throws in afternoon workouts during training camp July 29 at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

By Chris Tomasson

St. Paul Pioneer Press

The jokes about Shaun Hill’s age just keep coming.

When Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked last week why his 35-year-old backup quarterback didn’t throw at a practice, he quipped the team “ran out of oil in the training room.” Then came the rookie talent show earlier this week to close training camp in Mankato.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke played the role of Hill and walked onto the stage to talk with tight end MyCole Pruitt, playing offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

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“It’s 10 years from now and Shaun is still playing in the NFL,” Heinicke said. “I put on his jersey and I came out with a cane. I thought it was pretty clever, and we had a good time with it.”

Who was laughing the hardest? Hill.

“I got a good chuckle out of it,” Hill said. “I kind of figured I’d be the target of something, so I wasn’t really surprised by it. It actually saved the skit because I thought they might get booed off the stage before they got there.

“Taylor actually was worried about what to do (for the show), but I told him, ‘I’m an easy target and just go after me.’ I told him to feel free to use me because I don’t get upset about those things.”

Hill, a 14-year veteran, is the second-oldest Vikings player after cornerback Terence Newman, 36. He has gotten used to taking plenty of ribbing.

“They call me ‘Grandpa’ and things like that,” Hill said. “They say, ‘How are these helmets different than the leather helmets?’ Or, ‘Is everything all right, can I bring you an iced tea?’ But I take it as a compliment. It’s very much a blessing to be this age and still playing the game.”

Hill was signed in March for his second stint with the Vikings to back up Teddy Bridgewater. He is expected to play in Saturday’s exhibition game at TCF Bank Stadium against Tampa Bay after sitting out last Sunday’s opener against Pittsburgh.

Hill was with Minnesota from 2002-05 after playing college ball at Maryland. He got into only one regular-season game, losing 2 yards on two kneeldowns in the last game of 2005, a 34-10 win over Chicago.

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“I got a plus grade for both those kneeldowns,” Hill said with a laugh. “Back then, you got a plus grade if you lost one yard on a kneeldown and a negative if you lost two, and I lost one on both. But I’m excited to get back out there again.”

After leaving the Vikings, Hill spent nine seasons combined with San Francisco, Detroit and St. Louis. He started 34 out of a possible 144 games during that period.

“He has really impressed me,” said wide receiver Charles Johnson. “I don’t understand why he wasn’t a starter in this league. You can see he’s very mature and very polished. That’s what happens when you’ve been in the league for 14 years.”

What also happens is you get teased. Johnson called the rookie skit “pretty funny.”

Hill said he also got a laugh out of Zimmer’s quip. Often, he added, players greet him with a “Hey, coach.”

There’s a reason for that.

“He’s older than our quarterback coach (Scott Turner, 33), so a lot of guys give him (grief) for that,” Heinicke said. “But it’s all in good fun.”

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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