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Notes & Quotes | Rivera breaks down decision to start Taylor Heinicke

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Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media following the team's bonus day of practice on Tuesday. Here are some of the notes and quotes from his press conference: 

-- Rivera started off by addressing what has already been known for days now: Carson Wentz underwent successful surgery after fracturing his finger against the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football.  

"He's been doing rehab already and we'll get a little bit more update by the end of this week as far as he's concerned." 

In the meantime, Taylor Heinicke will be the team's starter, giving him another opportunity to prove himself after being the signal-caller for most of the 2021 season. Sam Howell, the team's fifth-round pick who has been inactive for the past six game days, will serve as his backup. 

-- Rivera remains comfortable with the Commanders' quarterback situation because of what Heinicke brings to the role. Not only does he have familiarity with the system that Scott Turner uses, but he also has an ability to run the ball that was useful in 2021.  

"The things that we'll do certainly will matchup his skill set."

-- In other injury news, the decision to put Wentz on Injured Reserve will be determined over the next few days as he goes through the initial stages of his rehab. There is no word on the status of Jahan Dotson, Sam Cosmi or Logan Thomas, although Rivera did say that Wednesday's practice should provide a good indication of where they are in their recoveries.

-- Rivera said that believes there are areas of Heinicke's skill set that have improved over the past few months. "He's a guy that's been very helpful," Rivera said, not just to Wentz, but Howell as well.

"He's a very knowledgeable guy," Rivera said. "And again, as far as learning in the game and knowing the game, there's no concern there."

-- Coincidently, Heinicke will start against the Green Bay Packers, a team that the Commanders plays in 2021 and were also 2-4 heading into the matchup. The one factor that stuck out to Rivera when rewatching the film was the slew of missed opportunities. Washington drove into Green Bay territory six times and only scored one touchdown.

"When you have opportunities, you know, you've got to take advantage of them."

-- It should be obvious, but Rivera addressed it all the same; there was no consideration to make Howell, who is firmly placed as the third quarterback on the depth chart when Wentz is healthy, the starting quarterback. The team does believe that Howell is on track in his development, but the coaches do not want to put Howell in that position this early in his career.

-- In news not related to Heinicke, Rivera feels that Brian Robinson is coming along "very nicely." He led the team with 60 yards and his first career touchdown against the Bears, which Rivera said was "a good dose" for him. The game, particularly in the second half, offered a glimpse at what the duo of Robinson and Antonio Gibson could look like. While Robinson operated as the downhill back, Gibson used his speed and quickness to attack the perimeter.

-- There is one thing that has been clear about the roster since Heinicke was named the starter in 2021: the players believe in and rally around him. Some of that comes from the "never die, never quit" mentality that he has shown over the past year. Heinicke's teammates know that he is going to step up and do whatever necessary to help them win.

"It's kind of that underdog story," Rivera said. "It's a little bit of that too as well. So, it's kind of exciting and we'll see how it goes."

-- One more bit of roster news: the Commanders signed Jake Fromm to the practice squad. Fromm, a 2020 fifth-round pick, has two starts in his career and most recently played for the New York Giants. It would take a lot of injuries at quarterback for Washington to be forced to play Fromm, but they do feel comfortable with his knowledge.

"He's a guy that we feel that, if we ever got into an extreme emergency...we believe could learn and learn very quickly."

The Washington Commanders were on the field for a bonus day of practice to prepare for their Week 7 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Check out the top photos from the day. Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders

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