Washington QB Taylor Heinicke aims for happy homecoming vs. Falcons

Field Level Media

September 30, 2021 at 12:50 am.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is hoping for a successful homecoming when he leads the Washington Football Team against the host Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Heinicke, who grew up near Atlanta, had a rude welcome in his first NFL road start last Sunday when Washington was roughed up by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, 43-21. Heinicke was 14-of-24 with 212 yards, two touchdowns and two picks.

“It’ll be really cool to go out there, hopefully put on a good show and go get a win,” Heinicke told reporters.

Coach Ron Rivera said he has no plans to play backup Kyle Allen. The 28-year-old Heinicke has played 10 quarters since taking over for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first game.

“I’m going to stick with Taylor because, honestly, (Sunday) was Taylor’s fourth start ever,” Rivera said Wednesday. “It was his first start on the road. He was put at a deficit from the beginning. He tried to do the best he (could). I thought he handled the situation pretty well.”

Washington (1-2) and Atlanta (1-2) have both picked up their lone win against the New York Giants.

Washington’s defense is allowing 432 yards per game, second most in the NFL. The front line led by Chase Young has produced only six sacks in three games, but Falcons coach Arthur Smith is well aware of what they can do.

“Washington’s invested heavily in (the defensive line). They’re a talented bunch,” Smith said. “The talent level jumps off the tape at you. You’ve got tough matchups every week, but this is another challenge.”

Atlanta’s offense has struggled and ranks 29th in points per game (16.0) and 27th in total yards per game (301.3). However, the unit came alive with 10 points on their final two possessions in a 17-14 victory last Sunday.

“I just thought that we executed the way that we are capable of at the end,” quarterback Matt Ryan said Wednesday. “Hopefully, we can use some of that momentum this week and try and play that type of way — consistent, efficient and confident. If we can do that, I think we are capable of being a good offense.”

Ryan has completed 83 of 117 passes (70.9 percent) for 707 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Rivera is well-acquainted with Ryan from his time with the Carolina Panthers.

“He’s seen a lot of coverages, seen a lot of DBs,” Washington safety Kamren Curl said. “His veteran ways give him an advantage. (But) if we can get to him, he can’t move around.”

Running back Cordarrelle Patterson had six catches for a team-high 82 yards Sunday and is one of three NFL running backs with over 150 receiving yards (153). Kyle Pitts leads all rookie tight ends in receptions (11) and receiving yards (139).

Washington running back Antonio Gibson also had a banner day Sunday with 104 scrimmage yards, including a career-long 73-yard touchdown off a screen pass.

Atlanta’s defense showed improvement over Weeks 1 and 2, holding the Giants to 14 points. They have only registered six sacks and are one of four teams yet to intercept a pass.

Washington wide receiver Curtis Samuel returned to practice Wednesday. The free agent signee was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury before the season began and it’s uncertain whether he will be ready by Sunday.

“He moved around well,” Rivera said. “I really like watching him run, especially the deep balls. He showed his speed, so it was good to see him out there. But we have 21 days before we have to do anything.”

Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson, who suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, missed Wednesday’s practice and was considered day-to-day, as is wide receiver Russell Gage (ankle). Cornerback A.J. Terrell, inactive against the Giants due to a concussion sustained in Week 2, had a full practice Wednesday.

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