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Washington will start Dwayne Haskins at QB vs. Panthers; Alex Smith (calf) not ready

Alex Smith isn't quite ready to return to action yet.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Smith won't play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers due to a calf injury. Washington will start Dwayne Haskins, per sources informed of the decision. Washington later listed Smith among its six inactive players.

Smith's calf continues to keep him out of action after he suffered the injury in the first half of Week 14.

After being labeled as a full participant in practice on Friday, there was hope Smith might return for the NFC East leaders this week. Alas, he'll sit at least another week.

Smith missing action gives Haskins another chance to redeem himself after a tumultuous week. Pictures surfaced of the Washington QB maskless at what he called a "private birthday party" with his girlfriend after last week's loss, breaking COVID-19 protocol. The second-year signal-caller was fined $40,000 and stripped of his captaincy after the reckless decision.

Haskins apologized for the error.

Now he'll have the chance to prove himself on the field.

Against a Panthers team that has lost eight of its past nine games, Washington has a chance to take a firm grip of the NFC East and could clinch the division title with a win and a New York Giants loss.

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