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Eagles to face Washington’s Garrett Gilbert with top QBs Taylor Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen sidelined

The 30-year-old quarterback Washington signed just last Friday is expected to be the team’s starter at Lincoln Financial Field Tuesday night.

Garrett Gilbert drops back to throw as Kyle Shurmur and Jordan Ta'amu watch at a Washington Football Team practice Sunday.
Garrett Gilbert drops back to throw as Kyle Shurmur and Jordan Ta'amu watch at a Washington Football Team practice Sunday.Read moreJohn McDonnell

All signs point to journeyman quarterback Garrett Gilbert getting the start for Washington on Tuesday night against the Eagles.

The 30-year-old quarterback Washington signed on Friday is expected to be the starter at Lincoln Financial Field after Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen weren’t able to test out of the COVID-19 protocols earlier in the day.

The league’s two-day postponement of the game afforded Washington a chance to recoup a handful of impact players, but neither Heinicke, the projected starter, nor Allen, the backup, will be available. The team will also be missing seven assistant coaches who entered health and safety protocols on Monday, and All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff was added to the COVID-19/reserve list as well. Washington activated three players off the COVID-19 list three hours before kickoff, but still had more than a dozen players unavailable.

The Eagles’ list of pregame moves was far shorter than Washington’s. Landon Dickerson and Andre Dillard will both miss the game after going on the COVID list in the days leading into Tuesday. To add depth to the offensive line, the Eagles activated Jack Anderson off injured reserve.

Gilbert may have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the league’s moving the game from Sunday to Tuesday. He was on the New England Patriots’ practice squad all season after being released by the Dallas Cowboys at the end of training camp.

Gilbert overlapped with Washington head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner for the 2018 season when all three were with the Carolina Panthers. Rivera said Gilbert’s familiarity with Turner’s scheme and terminology was the reason they favored him once Heinicke joined Allen on the COVID-19 list late last week, but Rivera also noted how helpful the extra two days of practice were for Gilbert.

» READ MORE: Eagles beat writers make their predictions for the rescheduled Washington game

“I think it’s been very good for him,” Rivera said. “His recall has been very good. The game-planning specific things, it’s really helped not just him, but I think the coaches get a good handle and feel for what he does really well and what he can adapt to and adjust with. It’s also given him an opportunity to watch a little bit more film and see a little bit more of what to expect from them on a defensive side.”

Gilbert has started just one game since being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. The Cowboys signed him off the Browns’ practice squad in 2020 and started him while Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton were injured. Gilbert struggled in that game, completing just 55% of his passes with one touchdown and an interception in a loss.

Washington isn’t the only team with a COVID-19 outbreak depleting its quarterback depth chart, though. The Cleveland Browns started Eagles castoff Nick Mullens on Monday night after both Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum went on the COVID-19 list. Even though Mullens struggled for most of his stint with the Eagles during the offseason and preseason, he played reasonably well in Cleveland’s 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, all things considered.

Washington activated Kyle Shurmur, the son of former Eagles coach and current Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, to the active roster Tuesday, making him the backup quarterback for the night.

» READ MORE: Start Gardner Minshew over Jalen Hurts if the Eagles want to win | Marcus Hayes

Hot seats

Washington’s sideline might be a little less crowded, but the organization made sure the players who made the trip will have warm backsides during the game at the very least.

Copying the Dallas Cowboys’ decision at FedEx Field last week, Washington had its own heated benches shipped to the Linc ahead of the game, which should feature weather in the mid-to-high 30s. According to an NBC Sports report, Washington is planning on having heated benches shipped to each of its next three road games.