LANDOVER, Md. – With his injured calf still not healed to the point where he could function adequately, Alex Smith will be inactive for Washington in Saturday night's wild-card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Smith had held out hope he could play. But he was evaluated Saturday afternoon, in advance of the 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff, and the determination was made that he wasn’t able, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced its list of inactive players.
Smith first strained the calf in his right leg Dec. 13 against the 49ers and missed the second half of that game, and the next two contests.
Washington Football Team QB Alex Smith (11) will miss his third game in the past four weeks. (Photo: Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports)
He returned to action in Week 17, helping Washington clinch the division and its first playoff berth since 2015. However, his mobility was greatly limited against Philadelphia.
Smith was limited all week leading up to the playoff opener against Tampa Bay. Although the 16-year veteran has a high pain tolerance, the determination came down to functionality.
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The injured calf is part of the same leg Smith broke in 2018 and required 17 surgeries to repair. A portion of that calf muscle had to be used to cover the bone on the front of Smith’s leg.
This may end Smith's remarkable comeback season. He was a long shot to make the roster, but did so as the third quarterback. Midway through the season, he reclaimed the starting role, going 5-1 as the starter while sparking Washington’s turnaround.
It’s expected that Smith will win NFL comeback player of the year honors.
With Smith out, Taylor Heinicke will start against the Bucs. The third-year pro signed with Washington Dec. 8. He's appeared in eight games during his career, starting once.
Heinicke took extensive practice repetitions during the week due to Smith's injury.
With former first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins having been released by the team before the final game of the regular season, Saturday's WFT backup will be Steven Montez, an undrafted rookie from Colorado.
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