Wentz returns to Commanders practice, not as starting QB

Sports

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Carson Wentz is back practicing with the Washington Commanders.

Just not as their starting quarterback.

Wentz returned to the practice field Wednesday and was designated to return from injured reserve, but he’s set to watch Sunday as Taylor Heinicke makes a sixth consecutive start when the Commanders host the Atlanta Falcons.

Coach Ron Rivera selected Heinicke as the starter even pending Wentz’s return because Washington is 4-1 since the QB change.

“We had a pretty brief conversation, pretty to the point,” Wentz said of Rivera delivering the news. “And it was fine. I get it. I get it. It’s part of the business and I totally understand where we’re at as a team and everything else. Obviously as a competitor you want to be out there.”

Wentz isn’t even expected to be in uniform as Heinicke’s backup this weekend. That job remains with rookie Sam Howell, according to Rivera, who would not commit to Wentz’s role moving forward.

“We’ll take it one game at a time,” Rivera said. “Right now it’s to see how he looks back in team settings. We have him doing some stuff off to the side, then we bring him in and get him involved in some of the other stuff that we’re doing.”

Wentz broke the ring finger on his right, throwing hand Oct. 13 in a victory at Chicago and underwent surgery to repair it the following week. The 29-year-old said physically he feels good, and his passes in practice had some zip on them.

Mentally, it has been a grind on Wentz, who has lost a starting job for the second time in three years. Two teams removed from Jalen Hurts passing him on the depth chart with Philadelphia, Wentz is trying to handle this situation like a professional — and is still hosting Thanksgiving dinner for several teammates.

“Circumstances shouldn’t change who you are as a person, whatever that means and whatever that looks like,” Wentz said, crediting his wife for planning the Thanksgiving meal. “I try not to let the circumstances and the situations change who you are, just because you’re hurt, just because this — X, Y and Z. Try and be the same person every day, day in and day out.”

Wentz has earned nothing but effusive praise from Heinicke and others around the Commanders for being a good teammate and not letting the benching sour his relationships around the locker room. He reiterated his desire to aid Heinicke as much as possible, and the two keep saying their rapport is strong.

“I understand it must be tough on him the last several weeks, but he’s put that aside and he’s helped me out a lot,” Heinicke said. “It’s a lot of credit to him and speaks to his character.”

NOTES: Edge rusher Chase Young was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, and his status for the Falcons game is uncertain. It has been more than a year since Young tore the ACL in his right knee. Rivera has said if Young plays, it will be on a limited scale of 12 to 16 plays. … LB Cole Holcomb (foot) is expected to miss a fifth consecutive game. Rivera said Holcomb is going to see a specialist about the injury.

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