Washington QB Taylor Heinicke On Alex Smith: ‘Hopefully We Can Bring Him Back’
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke said he’s hopeful that the team finds a way to bring former Utah great Alex Smith back for the 2021 NFL season.
Although Smith came back from a devastating injury to play last season, he recently told GQ that he didn’t feel that Washington wanted him prior to the 2020 campaign.
One person within the organization that wants him back for 2021 is his fellow quarterback and teammate, Heinicke.
“He means a lot to the team,” Heinicke told NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano during NFL NOW on February 25. “He brings a lot to the table. Hopefully we can bring him back. I know a lot of the guys love him and he’s good for the locker room and he can still play. But football’s a crazy business. So who knows what’s going to happen?”
Heinicke took over for Smith during Washington’s one-game postseason run. After Smith suffered a leg injury late in the regular season, the former Ute was unable to play in the NFC Wild Card against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It wasn’t awkward at all,” Heinicke said. “Alex is a great dude. He knows it was his team. If he was ready to go, he would’ve gone. It just felt like he wasn’t ready to go during that week. He wasn’t getting a lot of practice reps. I was getting the majority of them.”
Although he was unable to play, Heinicke said that Smith was a great teammate during that time.
“Coach Ron Rivera told me that Friday before the game I would be starting,” Heinicke said. “Alex is a great dude. He pushed off treatments, sometimes that week just to be in the quarterback room with me kind of going over film and helping me through the whole process. It just speaks tremendous character to him.”
Smith’s Potential Return
Earlier in February, ESPN NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler discussed Smith’s desire to return for another season during an interview on SportsCenter.
“I’m told that Alex Smith after a great comeback year, going 5-2 down the stretch, he does want to continue playing football,” Fowler said. “He’s leaning that way, but he’s got a large cap hit. Washington could save $13.6 million if they did move on. And many people around the league believe their answer at quarterback is not in the building. So maybe they could work something out with Smith, but he does want to play somewhere.”
After Washington was eliminated from the postseason, Smith said that he was undecided on his NFL future and would “take a few weeks” before deciding whether to keep playing.
“It’s not the way you want to finish a season,” Smith said a day after his team exited the playoffs with a loss to the Buccaneers. “To even be in this situation is something that if presented to me a year ago, two years ago, I would have jumped at it.”
On February 6, Smith was honored as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year following his return to the field in 2020. The former Utah star missed the entire 2019 season after suffering a life-threatening leg injury in the 2018 season.
Alex Smith’s 2018 Injury
Smith suffered a broken fibula and tibia during a game against the Houston Texans on November 18, 2018.
Doctors determined immediate surgery was required.
Days after the initial surgery, Smith developed a fever and his leg became infected with flesh-eating bacteria.
Smith’s injury was so severe that it was considered a sports-related injury.
In total, the QB experienced 17 surgeries.
The injury forced him to miss the rest of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season.
Alex Smith’s 2020 Comeback
Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Smith was cleared by doctors and earned a spot on Washington’s 53-man roster.
Midway through the season, he became Washington’s starting quarterback once again.
He helped led Washington to the NFL Playoffs and posted a 5-1 record in the games he started.
The former Utah great was unable to play in Washington’s Wild Card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he suffered an injury late in the regular season.
While the team listed the ailment as a calf injury, 60 Minutes’ Norah O’Donnell reported that Smith’s injury was a bone bruise.