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Update: Taylor Heinicke starting tonight; Alex Smith’s calf injury will make him inactive

It could be Heinicke time tonight

NFL: JAN 03 Washington Football Team at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Update: Alex Smith will be inactive vs the Buccaneers

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 12 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.

John Keim says there has been no decision made as of this morning. The wait continues.