ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Commanders will start quarterback Taylor Heinicke in place of the injured Carson Wentz, coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday.
Wentz underwent surgery on his right ring finger Monday night in Los Angeles and won’t play vs. the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Rivera said they would know more about Wentz’s timetable — and whether or not they’ll place him on injured reserve — by the end of the week, after completing several days of rehab in Los Angeles. Wentz fractured his finger in Thursday’s 12-7 win over the Chicago Bears.
A source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Wentz was informed by doctors on Monday that he’s looking at a four-week recovery.
It’s not a surprise that Washington will turn to Heinicke instead of rookie Sam Howell, a fifth-round pick. Heinicke has been the No. 2 quarterback all season and, while the team likes how Howell has progressed they still see more work that needs to be done. He’ll be the No. 2 quarterbacks; Washington also signed quarterback Jake Fromm to the practice squad.
Heinicke has played with Washington since December 2020, but was part of this offense for one season in Carolina. At 2-4, Washington is in fourth place in the NFC East — two games behind third-place Dallas. But with a third wild card, the Commanders remain hopeful of turning their season around and contending for a playoff spot.
“We’re still in a good situation, it’s still early in the year,” Rivera said. “We like what we have in terms of our playmakers and we don’t want to put Sam in a situation like that this early in his career. We feel as he grows and develops he’s got a chance.”
Last season, Heinicke threw for 3,419 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He posted a total QBR of 45.8, which ranked 24th among quarterbacks who started at least 10 games.
He also ran 60 times for 313 yards. Considering Washington’s issues on offense — it ranks 24th in total yards and 28th in offensive points per game — Heinicke’s mobility could provide a spark. After scoring a combined 55 points in the first two games, Washington scored 47 in the next four.
“Because of the familiarity in the things we do it’ll be an easy transition for us,” Rivera said. “With Taylor, there is always that ability to run the ball.”
Two of those skill players — tight end Logan Thomas (calf) and receiver Jahan Dotson (hamstring) both missed the past two games. Their availability for Sunday remains uncertain.