Leg lift? Washington may platoon ODU's Taylor Heinicke with injured QB Alex Smith

Washington Eagles Football
Posted at 11:10 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 23:10:12-05

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - Alex Smith's comeback story reads like a Hollywood movie script. The scene that could play out Saturday night as the Washington Football Team hosts its first playoff game in five years could involve a quarterback rotation.

In Sunday's NFC East division-clinching victory at Philadelphia, Smith was clearly hampered by the calf injury that caused him to miss the previous two and a half games.

"Definitely in the second half, I was feeling it a little bit," Smith admitted after the game.

"As long as he’s performing and doing the things that he needs to do to help us, we’ll keep rolling," Washington head coach Ron Rivera admitted Tuesday - four games before his team hosts Tampa Bay in an NFC Wild Card Playoff game. Rivera also admitted Smith might not be healthy enough to take every snap of Saturday's game - which would mean backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion University's all-time leading passer, could see action in the franchise's most-important game in a half-decade.

“Honestly, the thing that we have to be willing to do and what we really have to think about it whether or not to rotate Alex in and out with Taylor," Rivera revealed Tuesday. "We have to look at it. We’re going to play a very aggressive defense this week. Obviously, it’s something we most certainly have to look at.”

Heinicke has appeared in eight career games. Should he see action vs. the Buccaneers, he'd be going head-to-head with Tom Brady - who has seen action in nine career Super Bowls.

“Just so you know, I didn’t say we were going to do it," Rivera added about the potential platoon at QB. "I just said it’s something we need to think about. That’s why it’s important, in my opinion, to have quarterbacks that have been in your system and know your system. That’s why we brought Taylor in a few weeks back because here’s a guy that’s been in the system a few times. That was one of the benefits of having Taylor Heinicke around.”

Heinicke was signed to Washington's practice squad December 8th after being out of the league since the end of the 2018 season. The expectation was Heinicke would serve as the team's emergency quarterback should a COVID-19 outbreak impact its QB room. However, Heinicke replaced an ineffective Dwayne Haskins December 27th - one day before Haskins was released.