The Washington Football Team has a chance to clinch the NFC East title this weekend, but they are embroiled in an off-the-field distraction heading into Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. Former first-round draft pick, Dwayne Haskins Jr., has been fined by the team and stripped of his captaincy after breaking COVID-19 protocol.
Head coach Ron Rivera, who faces his former team this weekend, announced the undisclosed fine and punishment on Wednesday. Haskins could still start for 6-8 Washington this week as quarterback Alex Smith (strained calf) did not practice on Wednesday.
Haskins was photographed at a public event after Washington's loss on Sunday not wearing a mask. The event was his girlfriend's birthday party at a Washington, D.C., area hotel, and there were strippers present at the party.
Haskins also violated the NFL's COVID-19 protocols earlier this season when he brought an unauthorized person to the team hotel the night before Washington's game against the New York Giants.
Haskins was tested on Monday and apologized publicly while also apologizing to his teammates. If Haskins is punished further, Washington could turn to Taylor Heinicke or Steven Montez against the 4-10 Panthers.
Both were active to back up Haskins in the loss to Seattle last week. Washington (-2.5) clinches the division if it beats Carolina and the Giants lose to the Baltimore Ravens (-11) on Sunday.
Carr Limited in Practice
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr remains limited in practice ahead of their Saturday showdown with the 9-5 Miami Dolphins. Carr left last Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers with a groin injury as the Raiders lost 30-27 in overtime.
The Raiders will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss against the Dolphins, the team they trail by two games for the seventh spot in the AFC. Las Vegas has lost four of its last five games after starting 6-3 and are +3 for Saturday night's national television tilt.
If Carr can't go, former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will get his first Raiders start. Mariota signed a two-year, $17.6 million deal with the Raiders in March after five seasons in Tennessee.
Filling in for Carr last week, he ran for 88 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 226 yards and a score.
Elliott Hoping to Return
Speaking of the NFC East, the 5-9 Dallas Cowboys must win at home against the 4-9-1 Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) this week to keep their playoff hopes alive. The loser is eliminated no matter what happens with the Washington game.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott is hoping to return from a calf injury that held him out of the Cowboys win over San Francisco on Sunday.
Elliott had never missed a game due to injury before, and he was able to go through team drills on Wednesday. Dallas has won two games in a row for the first time all season to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.
Tony Pollard filled in for Elliott last week and ran for 69 yards and two touchdowns while also catching six passes for 63 yards. Elliott has 832 yards on the season with a career-high five fumbles. He is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and is on pace for his first full season under 1,000 yards.