- Erica Blackburn
Heinicke shows promise as Washington's starter
When quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went down in the first half of Week 1, all confidence in the Washington Football Team seemed to dissipate as the game against the Los Angeles Chargers went on. Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation and will spend the next 6-8 weeks on injured reserve. But in Taylor Heinicke we trust.
Heinicke joined Washington’s practice squad in December 2020. He got the chance to start during the Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after former Washington quarterback Alex Smith was ruled out with an injury. He played heroically, but nobody could expect a repeat performance from him. After Heinicke’s big-time performance on Thursday against the New York Giants, Rivera couldn’t help but speak glowingly about his QB.
“That’s exactly how he played, it was very gutty,” Rivera said. “The thing that was really impressive about him was the way he bounced back after the turnover. Prior to that, he went down and, in what, three plays, he scored a touchdown and turned around, and we were trying to kill the clock, and he made a bad read, made a bad decision.”
“He has a little swagger to him, and his teammates feed off of him. When you watch the way those guys feed off of him, it is pretty impressive.”
The Washington Football take on a strong opponent in the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 and more Heinicke magic is needed, especially on the road. But Rivera believes that won’t be a factor for him.
“To him (Heinicke), it's really about being on the field and playing on the field,” said Rivera. “He’s played a lot of football in the past in terms of what he did collegiately and then some of his opportunities coming up. This is his first real big shot, that to me, that's interesting.”
Heinicke won’t change his normal routine, but acknowledge how fans being back changes things a bit.
“It'll be my first road game starting, like you said, but it's at Buffalo with fans, so it's going to be loud,” said Heinicke. “There's going to be some silent count stuff that we're working on this week. It's a good defense and we're excited for the opportunity and the challenge.”