Head coach Ron Rivera announced on Tuesday quarterback Taylor Heinicke will start on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in place of Carson Wentz, and rookie quarterback Sam Howell will play backup. Heinicke is familiar when it comes to taking over for injured quarterbacks. He came in for Ryan Fitzpatrick during Week 1 last year and started the rest of the 2021-22 season [except Week 10 because of he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list].
As of now, Rivera believes Heinicke is the right man for the job.
“It’ll be an easy transition for us [under Heinicke] …The things that we’ll do certainly will match his skill set” Rivera said after practice on Tuesday.
In an up-and-down season last year, Heinicke didn’t have much to work with on offense, as wide receiver Curtis Samuel and tight end Logan Thomas were out for a majority of the year with injuries. The veteran quarterback also didn’t have running back Brian Robinson Jr. and wide receiver Jahan Dotson in his back pocket. The second-year starter now has those options.
“We like what we’ve got in terms of the skill sets and in terms of our playmakers…guys that we believe we can get the ball to” Rivera said.
In terms of Sam Howell, many fans and reporters are asking why not start and develop the rookie quarterback. Rivera said Howell isn’t ready yet.
“[We] don’t want to put Sam in a situation like that this early in his career…we feel he is a young man that as he grows and develops, he’s got a chance…I think Sam is still learning in terms of what we do and how we do it…that’s the part that you’ve gotta get familiar with there.”
The Commanders kick off at 1 p.m. on Sunday against the Packers.