This past Sunday, Taylor Heinicke made the first road start of his career in Buffalo in front of arguably the NFL's rowdiest fanbase. One week later, the Washington Football Team quarterback is set to make another road start, in Atlanta.
The Falcons aren't known for having as passionate a fanbase or rowdy a crowd as Bills Mafia in Buffalo, but it's possible Heinicke will have a few extra jitters when he runs out of the tunnel at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.
Heinicke is a Georgia native and went to Collins Hill High School, located less than an hour northeast of the heart of Atlanta. Washington's Week 4 matchup will mark the first time the 28-year-old plays against his hometown team as a visitor.
"It's going to be a fun day," Heinicke said on Wednesday following practice.
Heinicke will have plenty of his supporters through the years in attendance, but he's specifically looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of his longtime trainer, Earl Williams, and former high school coaches.
"It's going to mean a lot playing in front of my trainer who I've been training with for 10-plus years, high school head coaches, stuff like that," Heinicke said. "They're a big part of who I am today and why I'm here."
Like any NFL player making a return to his hometown, Heinicke has been bombarded with ticket asks. While the quarterback has done his best to honor all of them, he said Wednesday he told everyone from home he had a specific deadline for the requests to come in.
"I've got a lot of texts throughout the weekend," Heinicke said. "I just told them, 'Hey, if you want a ticket, let me know by Tuesday, because after Tuesday I'm not responding to anything.'"
That answer from Heinicke was one that was likely pleasing to head coach Ron Rivera, as Tuesday of each week is typically a player's off-day before true game preparation begins the following day.
Additionally, Rivera was asked about Heinicke returning home and responded with one of his signature phrases, "that's interesting," before saying he hopes it's not a distraction for his quarterback or any other of Washington's Atlanta-based players.
"We'll see how it goes. For Taylor, he's going to have to be the one that handles it, compartmentalizes it. Take care of all the things beforehand, get all your tickets and everything settled with the family ready to roll," Rivera said.
"It's true for all our guys. We have several guys that are from the Atlanta area as well," the head coach continued. "For them, it'll be a big game in their mind as well. To me, that's an interesting thing and the important thing is to make sure we're focused on playing on the field."
Asked how many tickets Heinicke has allotted for Sunday's game, the quarterback said just 10 for his "very close friends and family." However, the quarterback did say that his old high school and the Falcons have a deal where any alumni or current students can buy cheap tickets, so multiple people he knows have gone that route to get their entry ticket.
"They're giving them a good deal," Heinicke said.
While Heinicke is embracing the opportunity to play in front of longtime friends and family, his biggest focus entering Sunday's game is leading Washington to a much-needed win.
"It'll be really cool to go out there, hopefully put on a good show and go get a win," Heinicke said. "It'll be good to get a win in front of those guys."