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Alt Football in Review: Heinicke Benched, Parham Progresses, Igwebuike makes 53-man roster

Week 16 saw one of the great stories of the NFL possibly come to an end. Former Battlehawks Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was benched in favor of Carson Wentz and may have lost his starting job moving forward as well. Despite the benching of Heinicke, the XFL saw three former players earn significant playing time during week 16. Donald Parham, Godwin Igwebuike, and Elijah Campbell all saw increased roles for three teams that are in the middle of a playoff push.

Despite the benching of Heinicke, Head Coach Ron Rivera has remained non-committal on the Quarterback position for the final two weeks of the season. Heinicke put together a solid performance in week 16 despite the Commanders loss. Heinicke threw for two touchdowns, 166 yards, for 72.2 completion % and a 114.6 passer rating. Back-to-back turn overs prompted Rivera to turn to Carson Wentz who put together a similar stat-line in the Commanders loss to the 49ers. Heinicke has put together a 5-3-1 record for the Commanders during his reign as QB1 throwing for 1,859 yards and 12 Passing touchdowns.

While Heinicke can be erratic, the energy he brings is unmatched compared to Wentz. While purely speculative many could believe the benching of Heinicke could be viewed as a bit premature and simply a way for the Commanders Brass to try and recoup some investment from the Wentz trade this past off-season. Regardless Heinicke has proven to the NFL that he is a Bonafide Quarterback in this league and deserves to be on a team’s roster.

After Missing week 15, Elijah Campbell was back in the lineup for the Dolphins in week 16. The former DC Defender appeared in 19 snaps (14 ST, 5 Defense) in his return to the field recording no statistics. Campbell who began to see an increase in workload in 2022, has appeared in 14 games this year recording 12 tackles in his most extensive showing in his NFL career so far. The Former Defender is not only a veteran of the XFL but also played for the Birmingham Iron in 2019 as well.

CARSON CA FEBRUARY 23 Defensive back Elijah Campbell 28 of the DC Defenders warms up before the XFL football game against the LA Wildcats at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 23 2020 in Carson California Photo by Jayne Kamin OnceaGetty Images

Donald Parham continues to progress as the former Renegade Tight End appeared in 24 snaps on Offense increasing his workload from week 15 by two. Parham recorded another reception on two targets for Eight yards increasing his total to 7 receptions for 97 yards in 2022. Despite a season full of injuries Parham and the Chargers clinched the playoffs and will now be making their post-season debuts in the coming weeks.

Getting signed to the Seahawks 53-man roster was Godwin Igwebuike. The former Seattle Dragon was a Safety/DB prior to joining the Lions in the 2021 season. After a successful transition to Running Back Igwebuike was waived and then signed by the Seahawks in late September of 2022. For the past three weeks Igwebuike has been a monster in the kick return game continuing to impress on multiple facets of special teams since his elevation. Igwebuike has totaled 255 yards on 9 returns during his limited stint as the Seahawks return man for 2022.

Other News:

Steven Montez, Quarterback for the Seattle Dragons was signed to the Detriot Lions practice squad this past week. Montez joins the Lions after spending 2021 and part of 2022 with the franchise. Montez has been working out for teams throughout the off-season. The Sea Dragons go into the supplemental drafter with Brian Lewerke and Ben DiNucci as their two QBs going into camp for the 2023 season.

With two more weeks of the NFL season, it appears more and more players are getting a last second opportunity to showcase their skills. With 2022 closing many of players considered to be on the back end of the roster will continue to fight to show they belong a part of a team’s plans in 2023. Regardless for the XFL alumni of 2020 the players continue to represent alt-football in a positive light.

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Pat Rifino is a former Security Contractor turned writer. He began his writing career talking about geo-politics, and the defense industry. Now Pat writes about alt-league football, while hanging with his dogs in his off time.

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