Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke to start vs. Packers with Carson Wentz out

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Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke will have at least one opportunity to impress head coach Ron Rivera. 

Per ESPN’s John Keim and Christian Gonzales of the NFL’s website, Rivera confirmed on Tuesday that Heinicke will get the nod in place of injured starter Carson Wentz when the 2-4 Commanders host the 3-3 Green Bay Packers this coming Sunday. 

Wentz underwent surgery on Monday to repair his fractured right ring finger coming off the “Thursday Night Football” victory at the Chicago Bears. It was previously reported he could miss four to six weeks of action, and Keim noted that ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports the 29-year-old is “looking at a four-week recovery.” 

Logic suggests there’s no guarantee Wentz will have his QB1 job waiting for him when he’s cleared depending on how Heinicke performs. ESPN stats show Wentz ended Week 6 22nd among eligible quarterbacks with an 84.1 passer rating, 27th with a 34.1 total QBR, and 22nd with a 62.1% completion percentage for the campaign. He matched 10 touchdown throws with six interceptions before his setback. 

As for Heinicke, he not-so-quietly suggested in June he should’ve been given a legitimate opportunity to compete with Wentz for the starting gig this summer. The job is now Heinicke’s until further notice as the Commanders trail the 6-0 Philadelphia Eagles, 5-1 New York Giants, and 4-2 Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East standings. 

“We’re still in a good situation, it’s still early in the year,” Rivera said Tuesday about his club’s potential postseason hopes. Meanwhile, rookie and fifth-round pick Sam Howell will shift up the depth chart to serve as Heinicke’s backup. 

“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,” Rivera added. 

Heinicke made 15 starts for Washington last season and completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,419 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also rushed for 313 yards and a score on 60 attempts. 

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