Last Sunday, two former XFL quarterbacks started for their respective teams: Taylor Heinicke for Washington, and PJ Walker for Carolina. While Heinicke has been a starter since week 2, it was Walker’s first time being QB1 this season.
Heinicke had a big day, taking down Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29-19. The two had met in the playoffs last year, which was the game where Heinicke originally made his mark on the league. However, Washington lost by 8. This time, Heinicke was able to get his revenge, completing 26 of 32 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown in the process. With original starter Ryan Fitzpatrick now unlikely to return this season, Heinicke should keep his job as long as he avoids getting injured.
For JP Walker, things were a little more interesting. Although the Panthers took down the Cardinals 34-10, he wasn’t even the most notable quarterback on his own team. Cam Newton was signed just a few days earlier, and to the surprise of many, was active for the game. Walker still got the start, with head coach Matt Rhule claiming that Newton could be used on “package plays.”
He went on to score two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground. Newton accomplished the feat while only touching the ball 10 times (7 pass attempts, 3 carries). Walker, on the other hand, did most of the work away from the endzone. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 167 yards and an interception. With Newton slated to start in week 11, Walker likely won’t be taking the field as much from now on.
It’s not very often that two alt. league quarterbacks get to start in the NFL, let alone during the same week. Moments like these are proof that talent can come from anywhere, and player development doesn’t end after college.
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