Injured Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s recent MRI showed “progress,” coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday.
Rivera said that Fitzpatrick, who has been out since his Week 1 with a hip subluxation, will continue to rehab and will be re-evaluated “soon.” However, Rivera didn’t commit to any timetable for the 38-year-old gunslinger.
“They looked at [the MRI], and there is some progress. Unfortunately, it’s not way up, but it’s progress,” Rivera said. “So he’ll continue to work with his rehab stuff, and we’ll be reevaluating him soon. I’m not sure when…but the nice thing is that there is progress and positive signs.”
The team signed Fitzpatrick in the offseason to be its starting quarterback this season. But after his hip injury, Rivera turned to Taylor Heinicke, who performed well in the team’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay last season, to be the team’s signal caller.
The first few games of the Heinicke experiment went well, as the former XFL quarterback led Washington to a 2-1 record in his first two starts. In his first three-and-a-half games since he entered for the injured Fitzpatrick, Heinicke completed 69.5% of his passes at 8.1 yards per attempt with eight touchdowns versus three interceptions.
However, in the last four weeks, Washington is 0-4 and Heinicke is completing less than 60% of his passes for an underwhelming 6.2 yards per attempt, three touchdowns and six picks.
Rivera was brief when asked about Heinicke Wednesday, but did say what he wants to see out of the 28-year-old QB.
“Probably the biggest thing we want Taylor to do is go out and play with his personality,” Rivera said.
“I agree with him,” Heinicke said. “When I go out there and my personality comes out, I play better. I feel like the last two weeks it’s getting back to that. I’m having a lot more fun out there playing the game I love. You see when I’m more tentative and trying to be perfect all the time, that’s when mistakes happen.”
After making the playoffs last season with a 7-9 record, Washington had to turn to Heinicke for its home NFC wild-card round contest against future Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. Washington lost 31-23, but Heinicke, whose only previous NFL start came in 2018 for Carolina, threw for 300 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score.
While Heinicke and Washington are getting a rematch with the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers on Sunday, he said being the team’s long-term interim starter is nothing like when he was thrown into the fire this past January.
“It’s a different mentality. Last year, I didn’t know if I was ever going to play again. I was just going to go out there and leave it all out there,” Heinicke said. “ … It’s a totally different feeling when you don’t know if you’re ever going to play again versus knowing we have eight more games.”