Heinicke praises Wentz, embraces back-up role

Taylor Heinicke
Posted at 12:02 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 00:02:28-04

ASHBURN, VA (WTKR)- Taylor Heinicke has been here before. The former Old Dominion star and current Commanders' quarterback entered last year as Ryan Fitzpatrick's back-up and once again settles into that role behind Carson Wentz.

On Wednesday, Heinicke shared that he understood the reality of the depth chart situation and that he does not expect to compete for the starting job with Wentz healthy.

"If you're paying someone $30 million and you're paying someone else $2 million, you're playing this guy $30 million to play," Heinicke said following Wednesday's minicamp practice. "Carson's a great quarterback and you see it through OTA's and minicamp. I hope he goes out there and succeeds and again, my job is to back him up, hopefully he's on his deal, help him out with whatever way I can and if, for some reason, he goes down, I'm ready to go play."

The former Monarch started 15 games last year after Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury in the second quarter of Washington's opener with the Chargers. He threw for 3,419 yards, 20 touchdowns and was picked off 15 times, completing 65 percent of his passes. 2022 marked his first season with significant playing time and that experience has him better prepared for minicamp this time around.

"I kind of feel like I know what it takes to be a good quarterback, I know what it takes to win, so I think that's the biggest difference from last year to this year," Heinicke said. "This situation is no different than any other year I've been in. It's kind of just clawing my way in, trying to earn that spot on the team and go from there."

"With Carson here, he's assumed the role, understands the role, but he also wants to continue to compete, which he does," added Commanders' head coach Ron Rivera. "He competes out there every day and that's the kind of guy he is. He's the right kind of player to be here and be part of what we're trying to do."

Heinicke spent part of his offseason in Los Angeles working with a quarterback coach. He worked on arm strength, mechanics and other fundamentals to help sharpen his game. The former Monarch set out to correct some things he noticed when reviewing his performances from 2021.

Prior to Washington, Heinicke played six games for the Panthers in 2018 and one contest for the Texans the year prior. His NFL career resumed after nearly two years away from the league when he was brought on by Washington as a safety quarterback during COVID-19. He was pressed into service during the 2020 NFC Wild Card Game and put up a spirited performance in a loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.