The Washington Football Team fully expects to have their top signal caller, Alex Smith, back under center when they take the field against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night with a chance to punch their own playoff ticket, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport.
Smith had previously suffered a calf strain during a Week 14 win over the San Francisco 49ers that forced the veteran to leave the game and halftime and miss Washington’s subsequent two games, both of which ended as losses.
Taylor Heinicke was forced to step in for the benched Dwayne Haskins during their 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers in their last game and played pretty well, going 12-of-19 for 137 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. It was believed after that game that the Old Dominion product might have to be leaned on to get Washington through the finish line and into the playoffs, and bless his heart but that short resume of his just did not inspire a lot of confidence.
But in the end, it looks like the Washington faithful will not have to rely on the inexperienced Heinicke to win them the porous NFC East, with Smith progressing well this week. The 36-year-old practiced on back-to-back days for the first time since sustaining the calf injury, and Rivera said there were no limitations in terms of the reps he was taking on Friday.
“I thought he had a good day. He moved around well, he threw well,” said Rivera of his starting quarterback’s Friday practice session.
The team was holding off on any designations for Smith until they saw how his calf responded to back-to-back days of work, and according to Rapaport, the answer was positive as he’s now expected to play.
The NFL Network insider did, however, say that the team will check back in one last time on Sunday morning to ensure that the three-time Pro Bowler is in tip-top shape for the biggest game of the year, a game for which they are currently sitting as -210 odds favorites to win on 888sport.
Second-year pro and 2019 NFL first round pick Dwayne Hasksins had been at the controls for Washington for most of Smith’s absence, but his play was abysmal and his antics off the field were simply too much for a hard-ass like Ron Rivera to stand for, so he cut the youngster earlier this week. Haskins has had a pretty bumpy ride in two years in the league, but we don’t expect that we’ve heard the last from him.