- The Washington Times
Monday, September 13, 2021

Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was placed on injured reserve Monday, a day after suffering a hip injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s 20-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The placement on the list means Fitzpatrick will miss at least three games. Coach Ron Rivera said an MRI confirmed that the 38-year-old has a “hip subluxation” — adding that Fitzpatrick would get a second opinion. Rivera said he didn’t know the severity of Fitzpatrick’s injury, whether it’s short-term or if he’d be done for the season.

Rivera said the quarterback still needed to meet with additional doctors to find out more information. 

“As we learn more, we’ll go from there,” Rivera said.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter, citing a source, said Fitzpatrick’s timetable would be between six to eight weeks. The news came after Rivera’s press conference.

Whether three weeks or longer, Fitzpatrick’s injury is a blow for Washington as the team’s brass hoped the quarterback would help jolt the offense and build upon last year’s promising playoff berth. It also marks another year in which Washington has to cycle through multiple quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick was the team’s ninth signal-caller since Kirk Cousins’ departure in 2018 and the team has played four quarterbacks in two of the last three seasons.

Washington now turns to Taylor Heinicke, the electric backup quarterback who played well in relief by completing 11 of 15 passes for 122 yards against the Chargers. Like last year’s playoff performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Heinicke dazzled at times on the field— providing a spark with his ability to improvise and extend plays with his legs.

Heinicke’s first start for Washington will come soon as the team has a quick turnaround with Thursday’s game against the New York Giants. 

“It is frustrating, but hopefully with the situation we have now, we can go forward,” Rivera said. “We’ll see. Again, that’s what we’re hoping for. We like the guys that we have. We’ve had them play for us. They’ve done some good things for us. So we’ll see what happens.”

Kyle Allen will back up Heinicke

For depth, Washington signed quarterback Kyle Shurmur to the practice squad. The 24-year-old entered the NFL in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt and most recently spent the offseason with the Cincinnati Bengals. He is the son of former Giants coach and Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. 

Rivera said Monday that the team has no plans to bring in another quarterback besides Shurmur. As soon as Fitzpatrick went down, speculation started over whether Rivera could reunite with Cam Newton — his former quarterback in Carolina who was released by the New England Patriots just prior to the start of the season. Despite spending eight-plus seasons together, Rivera has resisted other opportunities to bring in Newton — and Rivera said Monday that the team would stick by their signal-callers with it being a short week and “go from there.” 

Still, Washington carries on with a fragile quarterback situation. Heinicke has a spotty injury history — the 6-foot-1 passer was named the Panthers’ starter in Week 16 of the 2018 season, only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury. He was again hurt in Washington’s playoff game last winter, playing through a separated shoulder in the loss. Allen, too, is coming off a fractured ankle, an injury that continued to bother him in camp. 

Heinicke, though, put on weight in the offseason in an effort to get stronger and withstand hits. The quarterback has vowed to play smarter, and Rivera said he saw Heinicke make good decisions against the Chargers. 

“I thought he handled it very well,” Rivera said. “He understands he’s got to be more responsible for himself.” 

As for Fitzpatrick, Dr. Derek Ochiai, a Virginia-based orthopedic surgeon who holds no formal connection to the team, said Fitzpatrick is still dealing with a “very serious” injury. A hip subluxation, he said, is when the ball in the socket “goes in a weird way” but remains in the socket. It’s less severe than a hip dislocation, but can take several weeks to recover “at the very least.” 

The best case for Fitzpatrick is that he’s just dealing with bone bruising that could heal on its own, Ochiai said. That, he said, could take anywhere between four to six weeks before Fitzpatrick could be cleared to practice. 

But the more worrisome scenario — and in Ochiai’s medical opinion, “very likely” — is that Fitzpatrick tore the labrum (cartilage) in his hip or suffered other damage to the area. 

“Because the hip is a really stable joint, you can’t subluxate your hip and not damage anything,” Ochiai said. “It’s not like it’s just loose and, ‘Oh, I shucked it out.’ Especially for somebody that’s been playing football for 17 years. I can guarantee that he doesn’t have an unstable hip before this injury, so you have to injure something in order to subluxate it.”

Rivera said Monday he didn’t have a chance to speak with Fitzpatrick in person, noting the two traded texts while Fitzpatrick was getting tests done. But Rivera seemed more than comfortable with Heinicke under center for the time being.

“I think it’ll be cool,” Rivera said. “I think our guys will rally around him. It’s just one of those things that some guys do have the innate ability to create some enthusiasm, some excitement. … He plays a little bit like his hair is on fire, he plays a little bit like a gunslinger. 

“But, I think, and hopefully believe, is that he has matured a little bit. He understands that what he has to do and how he has to do it. And I’m excited to see what’s going to happen.”

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.