For the Washington Football Team, Dec. 22, 2020 will forever be known as the day where all anyone wanted to talk about was Dwayne Haskins’ off-field decision making.
Ron Rivera faced numerous questions about the passer’s partying and the punishment for Haskins’ violation of COVID protocols to begin his post-practice presser, and halfway through, he made it clear he was very fed up with having to do so.
The first inquiry for Alex Smith — whose status for Sunday’s game against the Panthers remains unclear — didn’t have to do with his calf; instead, he was asked for his reaction to the newest saga in Ashburn.
Others players, like Brandon Scherff and Chase Young, touched on the controversy, too.
So, yeah, Haskins and his actions were very much the topic of conversation on Wednesday. However, there WERE updates on Smith and the other two QBs on Washington’s roster as well.
There’s no denying that the drama around Haskins is interesting, even if Rivera doesn’t think so. Still, the trio of non-Haskins signal callers, with Smith obviously at the top of that list, also matter as Washington tries to secure a playoff trip.
With that in mind, here’s the latest on that group.
As he works further to come back from his calf ailment, Smith remains Washington’s starter. Haskins will fill in for No. 11 if he can’t suit up for the Panthers.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported that there’s optimism about Smith’s chances for returning to the lineup, and in his own podium session on Wednesday, his quotes matched that mood.
“For me, I’m absolutely planning on being out there,” he said. “I felt like today went well. I’ve still got some treatment to get and to keep going. Then, it’s onto tomorrow.”
The usually in-the-moment Smith did admit that the importance of beating Carolina is on his mind during his recovery.
“You’re doing every single thing you can,” Smith said. “Absolutely. We’re exhausting everything.”
Montez, who’s been with the organization since joining as an undrafted free agent in the offseason, was active for the first time in his career versus the Seahawks (Rivera informed reporters he would’ve gone in had Haskins gone down). If Smith is once again sidelined, Montez will dress for a second-straight contest, and he might do so regardless.
Coordinator Scott Turner appreciates how the rookie has committed himself as a pro, yet he did express a bit of concern about the potential of Montez being called on due to his complete lack of legitimate action.
“Steven’s been great,” Turner said. “He kind of stuck to the quarterbacks and he’s followed those guys around, especially Alex, just trying to soak up as much knowledge as he can… I think if something were to happen, you’d love for him to have a little experience, at least some preseason experience. He’s a big guy, a big competitor. I think he’d go out there and play well.”
Ideally, of course, Turner won’t have to find out if that’s true.
At practice on Wednesday in the open-to-the-media portion, Heinicke was seen taking a few first-team reps in the instances that Haskins wasn’t in the huddle (Smith, meanwhile, was merely off to the side throwing and Montez was acting as a scout defender). Could that mean he’s jumping Montez on the depth chart?
That angle wasn’t covered with Rivera or Turner, but Turner did get into what his job has been like lately with all of the shuffling at his most crucial position.
“You only get a certain amount of practice time,” he said. “There are only so many reps, and you have to figure out how to divvy them up. That’s what we’re doing. Those guys are professionals, and they’ll be ready if they’re called upon.”
Nothing like heading into such a consequential game with so much QB chaos, right?