Alex Smith’s calf injury could force the Washington Football Team to start Taylor Heinicke at quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday in the NFL’s Wild Card round playoff game.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Smith’s calf injury, which slowed him down in Washington’s Week 17 win over the Eagles, will be evaluated before kickoff, but it is “trending the wrong way for his calf.”
Smith missed two games late in the season after sustaining a calf strain in his right leg against the 49ers. This is the same leg Smith suffered a gruesome injury to in Nov. 2018 which held him out of football for nearly two seasons. Smith would undergo 17 surgeries and numerous complications during his long road back to the NFL.
Rapoport added Smith “came in sore” on Friday and that forced everyone in Washington to “pump the breaks on his status.”
On Smith’s injury, Rapoport said Saturday morning “it may keep him out tonight. In fact, that is the way it is trending for the Washington Football Team that Taylor Heinicke could end up being the starting quarterback against Tom Brady.”
Heinicke has played less than one quarter of football for Washington since he signed as the team’s quarantine quarterback in December. During a Week 16 loss to Carolina, Heinicke entered in relief of Dwayne Haskins in the 4th quarter and led Washington to a touchdown on 12-of-19 passing for 137 yards and ran for 22 yards. (Haskins was released the next day.)
Smith struggled against Philadelphia in Washington’s 20-14 win to clinch a playoff berth and the NFC East title. He threw for just 162 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked three times and intercepted twice.
Earlier this week, Washington head coach Ron Rivera said considering a quarterback rotation against Tampa Bay.
"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 him in and out with Taylor," Rivera told reporters Tuesday. "We have to look at it. There's nothing you can do about it, that's the truth of the matter. We're going to play a very aggressive defense this week. Obviously, it's something we most certainly have to look at."
On Friday, RADIO.COM NFL Insider Jason La Canfora tweeted, “Expect to see plenty of Taylor Heinecke tomorrow night.”
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