For the second time in nine months, Taylor Heinicke has been thrust from a backup job into the spotlight to try to lead the Washington Football Team to a prime-time victory. Heinicke steps in for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for WFT’s Thursday Night matchup vs. the New York Giants.
Torrey Smith, who won two Super Bowls during his NFL tenure as a wide receiver, played alongside Heinicke in Carolina in 2018. At the time, Heinicke was in a similar position — having to step up as a starter on short notice — which is why Smith’s confidence level in Washington’s QB is high.
“I had the opportunity to play with him in Carolina. He just has that ‘it’ factor,” Smith said during Washington Football Kickoff Live on Thursday. “He’s confident, he can make every throw, and he’s not afraid.”
Heinicke was nail-bitingly close to being a game-winning hero for Washington during the 2020 NFC Wild Card matchup, where the home side would narrowly lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He displayed tremendous poise and tenacity under center in that game. Smith thinks that mindset will carry over to Heinicke’s circumstances this season.
“There’s one thing that you can count on: if you’re gonna lose, if he’s gonna struggle, he’s gonna struggle swinging. And that’s the one thing I loved about him the most,” Smith said of his former teammate. “I remember Cam Newton was hurt, and [Heinicke] stepped in that huddle, and we believed him right away. He said, ‘Alright, let’s go.’”
Heinicke is making just his third career start under the bright lights of FedExField in Week 2. While some might fold under the pressure of prime-time, Smith thinks Taylor Heinicke is the type to do the exact opposite.
“He’s a guy that has the ability to play. I’m looking forward to watching him shine tonight. He’s been waiting for this moment.”