LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - Just a week after signing with the Washington Football Team's practice squad, former Old Dominion University star quarterback Taylor Heinicke has been promoted to the active roster.
Heinicke was originally brought on to be the team's emergency QB, keeping his distance from the team's other quarterbacks in case COVID-19 were to hit the quarterback room.
Heinicke's promotion is a result of starting quarterback Alex Smith's right calf injury. With Smith unavailable, Dwayne Haskins has been promoted to starter and Heinicke is needed in the backup role.
“Taylor’s a sharp dude. He picked it up right away," Ron Rivera, who coached Heinicke in Carolina, said about the quarterback's ability to quickly pick up the offense. "I have no issues with having to play him come Sunday if there was an emergency situation that we had to put him in.
"First of all, he’s a good athlete. He really is. He has tremendous athletic ability, good speed, good quickness. He’s got a good arm. He can make most throws in this league. He’s a little bit of a gunslinger. He’s got good toughness about him. He’s a quick decision maker. As I said earlier, he’s a smart football player."
Heinicke, the Monarchs' all-time leading passer, finished his ODU career in 2014 ranking third in FBS history in total offense; fourth in FBS with 132 touchdown passes; and sixth in passing yards. He's spent time with the Minnesota Vikings (2015-2017), New England Patriots (2017), Houston Texans (2017) and Carolina Panthers (2018-2019) in the NFL.
In 2018, under then-head coach Ron Rivera, he appeared in six games for the Panthers – completing 35 of 57 passes for 320 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner coached Heinicke in Carolina and Minnesota. He's appeared in seven career NFL games.
Washington faces Seattle Sunday at 1 p.m.