A year ago, Taylor Heinicke was an emergency QB in the ‘very back’ of meetings

Last year, Heinicke was emergency QB in 'very back' of meetings originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The transaction occurred exactly one year ago, and the tweet from Washington’s account couldn’t have been any blander in announcing it.

“We have signed QB Taylor Heinicke to the practice squad,” the post read.

Back in December of 2020, the organization brought in Heinicke to serve as its quarantine quarterback, a guy who would learn the offense and be there as a total last resort should something unforeseen happen to the players above him on the depth chart.

As fate would have it, those unforeseen things did indeed happen; Dwayne Haskins was released on Dec. 28 and then Alex Smith sustained a leg injury that prevented him from starting against Tampa Bay on Wild Card Weekend, meaning it was Heinicke who faced Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to begin the playoffs. 

After Wednesday’s practice, Heinicke was asked about the anniversary of his signing, and though he’s usually reticent to do a lot of reflecting, he did share some of his memories of his early days with Washington. 

The stories didn’t disappoint.

“We were all doing Zoom meetings, except for the quarterbacks,” Heinicke said. “The quarterbacks were the only ones that could meet in person, and we’re in a team meeting room — it’s a big room — and all the quarterbacks were in the front row and I’m in the very back.

“I can barely hear what they’re saying. They’re throwing me water bottles and sandwiches.”

Heinicke took his distancing duties seriously, he explained. For someone who was in his position prior to Washington’s call, he knew he couldn’t afford to screw anything up.

“Again, I was sitting on my couch, taking classes,” Heinicke said. “The last thing I was going to do was stand too close to someone here at the facility, so I kept my distance.”

While most of his teammates weren’t even sure of Heinicke’s name, a few of them did apparently try to engage him in conversations here and there. In those instances, Heinicke showed off a trait he’s since unveiled often on the field: mobility.

“I just kept on walking away from everyone,” he said.

As everyone knows by now, Heinicke would go on to have one hell of a night in the meeting with the Bucs, throwing for more than 300 yards and recording one of the most epic rushing touchdowns in Burgundy and Gold history. 

On the drive home after that contest, Heinicke was understandably proud of what he accomplished.

“Essentially, that was kind of like a job interview and I felt like I killed it,” the 28-year-old said.

Yet even so, he wasn’t completely confident about what that performance meant for his future. So, he texted his agent immediately afterward to ask a couple of simple questions.

“I said, ‘Hey, is this going to help me? What’s going on? Do I need to sign up for spring classes?'”

From there, Heinicke earned a new contract with Washington and, in 2021, the respect of so many around the league because of what he’s done this year and especially because of his contributions during the club’s four-game winning streak.

In short: Those spring classes have had to wait. 

That’s where the reminiscing stopped, however. Despite being far more established now than he’s ever been, Heinicke didn’t want to waste too much time in the past. For him, Sunday’s battle with the Cowboys is his next priority. 

“It’s been a wild ride,” he said. “Just trying to keep it going.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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