We're just a few days away from training camp, and there are plenty of new faces gracing the Washington Football Team's roster. So Washingtonfootball.com is breaking down each position as the team prepares for Year 2 of Ron Rivera's regime. Here are the positions we've covered so far:
Wrapping up the series are the quarterbacks. After the team decided to part ways with Alex Smith, Washington signed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick at the start of free agency in March. Fitzpatrick, the only quarterback to throw a touchdown for eight teams, is entering his 17th season. He is known for being a gunslinger who takes chances downfield and is expected to help Washington open up the playbook in Scott Turner’s second season as the offensive coordinator.
While the starting position is viewed as Fitzpatrick's to lose, Rivera also anticipates the other quarterbacks on the roster to compete as well. Taylor Heinicke, a late addition to the team in December, helped Washington stay competitive against the Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round, which the head coach said earned him an opportunity. Kyle Allen suffered a season-ending injury against the Giants, but the staff was pleased with how he directed the offense once named the starter.
Rounding out the position is Steven Montez. Montez has yet to make his professional debut, although the coaches seem pleased with how the former Colorado signal-caller has developed.
- Alex Smith
- Dwayne Haskins Jr.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
-- Fitzpatrick's mentorship: Aside from taking risks on the field, one thing Fitzpatrick is known for around the league is his ability to help other players continue their growth. To him, there's a "pay it forward" aspect to being a mentor. As a former seventh-round pick, he knows how valuable it is to get advice from more experienced players. Washington's receivers have already experienced that in minicamp as they learn more about his playing style. He's noticed that providing tips to other players helps give them confidence, which helps the entire offense.
"It's just fun to accelerate that with some of these guys and to make sure that they know they're here for a reason," Fitzpatrick said.
-- A bulkier Heinicke: Heinicke set a goal for himself to come back from the offseason bigger and stronger. Fifteen pounds of what he called "good weight" later, he has achieved that. A lot of what he did to bulk up wasn't too complicated; he was disciplined with his diet and worked out about six days each week. He also trained with Joel Seedman, who focuses more on functional movement as opposed to lifting heavy weights. The reason for it was simple: he wanted to protect himself better on the field. Seeing Heinicke head to the locker room only to come back and score a touchdown against the Buccaneers was exciting, but it's also unsustainable. Whenever his number is called again, Heinicke wants to be in the game from start to finish.
"I wanted to be smart, put on good weight but also have the speed and agility and stuff like that still there," Heinicke said. "I think my trainers back home did a pretty good job."
-- Updates on Allen's ankle: Allen was carted off the field against the Giants after dislocating his ankle. OTAs and minicamp were the first time Allen was seen on a field since the injury, and he seemed pleased with the progress. He still thought in June that he was "a little ways" from being 100%, although his goal remains to be ready for training camp. He's learned a lot about himself, he said, and his family and girlfriend have offered constant support throughout the process. With training camp just a few days away, his other focus is to play well, help his teammates and be the best player he can be.
"It's just being able to push through those things and have faith and belief," Allen said. "Understanding that if you work hard at it and you really want it and you're disciplined with everything you're going to be able to get back to that point."
What To Watch
-- Pushing the offense forward: Turner and Rivera have made it clear that they want the offense to be more explosive. They've surrounded the quarterback position with new weapons at wide receiver; the core of the running back position is returning; and there is a search to find more options at tight end.
All of that still hinges on how the position performs. There's confidence that Allen, Fitzpatrick and Heinicke can manage those pieces, regardless of who is on the field. Fitzpatrick is infamous for making those throws, and Allen and Heinicke's experience in the system can help give them more comfort directing the offense.
Each player will have a chance to make their case, but they have already shown that, on some level, they can help make the offense a more efficient scoring unit.