After suffering gruesome leg injury in 2018 that forced him to miss the entirety of the 2019 season, Smith led Washington to a 5-1 record under center in 2020 after recovering and ultimately replacing former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins. Smith then missed two games after suffering a calf injury in Washington’s Week 14 match-up with the San Francisco 49ers.
Earlier in the week head coach Ron Rivera hinted at Washington possibly deploying a quarterback rotation for Saturday’s game as Smith was limited at practice with the same injury. But with Smith now ruled out, Heinicke will get the starting nod with rookie quarterback Steven Montez as his backup.
Heinicke was initially signed as an undrafted free agent to the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 and has seen action in just eight games over his career with one lone start for the Carolina Panthers in 2018. The former Old Dominion quarterback was signed to Washington’s practice squad in early December to serve as the team’s “quarantine quarterback” in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak within the organization, but moved up the depth chart when Haskins was released in late December.