The regular season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its second season under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
Ron Rivera has a different player break down the pre-practice huddle every day. On Wednesday, it was time for Taylor Heinicke, who was named the starting quarterback earlier in the week, to take on the mantle. He didn't disappoint.
"I felt like I needed to get in front of the team a little bit," Heinicke said after practice. "So I went in there and said a couple of words that I probably shouldn't say right now about these Giants. Hopefully it got the guys fired up and ready to play for Thursday."
The media couldn't hear what was said, but Heinicke had clearly achieved his goal. It's what they've come to expect from the quarterback, and in case anyone still needs convincing, they're ready to rally around him.
"He just gives us all confidence because he knows what he's doing," said wideout Terry McLaurin. "He's gonna give you a chance to make plays."
There are some players who have an innate ability to create enthusiasm and excitement, Rivera said Monday. Heinicke has that ability because of the way he plays. He directs the offense "like his hair's on fire," according to Rivera, and his gunslinger mentality creates opportunities.
Those qualities are what Heinicke put on display in his first postseason start last season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he nearly helped upset Tom Brady and the eventual Super Bowl champions. That performance, which included 352 total yards and a pair of touchdowns, earned McLaurin's respect.
Nearly eight months later, the same traits shined again, as Heinicke completed 11-of-15 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown to go with three carries for 17 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers.
"The way he came in and handled his business on a moment's notice when we found out that Alex [Smith] wasn't going to be able to go, he was just prepared for his moment," McLaurin said after the 31-23 loss to the Buccaneers. "That's what this league is about, being prepared for your moment.
The way he plays, along with his preparation in the offseason and training camp, gives his teammates assurance that he can handle a starter's responsibilities in 2021. From the perspective of Chase Young, one of Heinicke's biggest supporters, there's no doubt in what "Big Tay" can do.
"At that position...I don't think anybody's really too worried," Young said. "Taylor can come in and sling it."
Young remembers when Washington signed Heinicke as its emergency quarterback in December. He also remembers being impressed with how Heinicke started to "sling it" against the Carolina Panthers, ending the day 12-of-19 for 137 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest reason Young trusts Heinicke under center: "he's just a winner."
"He's just gonna go hard," Young said. "That's all you can really ask.
"Heinicke doesn't plan on changing his personality after having his dream of being a starting NFL quarterback come to reality. It was Ryan Fitzpatrick’s team to start the year, so he didn't feel like it was his place to speak up. Now, however, if he feels the need to speak up, he's going to do it. And he knows his teammates are going to follow him.
"When we get out there on Thursday," Heinicke said, "everyone's pretty juiced up and everyone's ready to go."