Update: Alex Smith will be inactive vs the Buccaneers
Per source : Alex Smith will be inactive.— John Keim (@john_keim) January 9, 2021
Taylor Heinicke will start at quarterback. Alex Smith is inactive pic.twitter.com/eS4nb6BMqW— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) January 9, 2021
It’s game day, but we still don’t know who will be starting tonight’s home playoff game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ron Rivera told the world two days ago that Alex Smith was still a little sore, and Taylor Heinicke was taking most of the reps in practice. That apparently hasn’t changed, and now the team is just hoping that he feels better tonight before they have to make a decision.
Alex Smith missed 2 1⁄2 games due to a calf strain before returning in Philadelphia Sunday night to lead the Washington Football Team to a victory and the NFC East division championship. Smith didn’t look mobile, and was struggling at times, but finished the game. According to Albert Breer, his calf locked up on him, and the team fears that could happen again this week.
Smith’s calf locked up on him after Washington jumped to a 10–0 lead on Philly last week, and the fear, of course, would be that happens again. That’s why Rivera conceded earlier this week that he and Turner could get creative with the quarterbacks on Saturday night and, again, my sense is Heinicke’s given those guys enough reason to feel O.K. about it.
Ron Rivera made it known on Tuesday that they could rotate Smith and Heinicke if needed due to Smith’s leg. He said the gameplan is the same for both QBs, and he was confident with either of them in. The team would clearly prefer to have a healthy Alex Smith who is 5-1 as a starter this year, to Taylor Heinicke who started his only NFL game in 2018.
The story has been trending towards Smith getting limited, if any, playing time for most of the week. Reports from last night haven’t changed those odds, and are pushing the needle towards Taylor Heinicke getting his first start for Washington tonight. Smith’s calf reportedly isn’t responding, and Washington doesn’t have a full week for him to recover. Even with a full week, it sounds like Smith might have to rest another week. His story this season has been amazing, and he is a lock for comeback player of the year. Hopefully, Heinicke can give Smith another week to recover if he can’t go tonight.
The Washington Football Team will have more answers in the morning, but there is a real chance QB Taylor Heinicke ends up starting vs the #Bucs, sources say. Alex Smith’s calf is still sore and hasn’t loosened up. Heinicke took the majority of snaps and is ready if needed.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 9, 2021
I was told 3 things on Monday-— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 9, 2021
1) They want Alex to start
2) Alex will get every chance to start
3) Not scared to start or play Taylor
There’s a “very real chance” that Taylor Heinicke plays a lot tomorrow, if not starts, per a source. Alex Smith’s calf just isn’t responding.— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 9, 2021
John Keim says there has been no decision made as of this morning. The wait continues.
Still no QB decision. Which is telling. Might not fully know until early afternoon. See if Smith is feeling any better. Again: losing one day impacts. Stay tuned.— John Keim (@john_keim) January 9, 2021