Ron Rivera ‘can envision’ Alex Smith competing for playing time years after horrific leg injury

Ryan Young
·3 min read

Alex Smith has made significant, impressive progress while recovering from the horrific leg injury he suffered in 2018, one that nearly cost him his life.

While he’s not been cleared by the Washington Football Team for full contact yet, coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by Smith.

So much so, in fact, that he said he “can envision” Smith actually competing with Dwayne Haskins for the starting job this season.

“The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he’ll be part of the conversation most definitely,” Rivera said, via USA Today.

Smith cleared by personal doctors, on Washington’s PUP list

Smith suffered a compound fracture in his leg after it was awkwardly pinned underneath him when he went down in 2018, and had to be carted off the field and transported almost instantly to a local hospital.

Smith underwent 17 surgeries in total. The 36-year-old’s leg even became infected, and doctors seriously considered amputating it. He had to spend time recovering at a military facility in San Antonio after he was released from the hospital — doctors started considering his injury a military one, as if it had been impacted by an explosion, rather than a sports injury — and spent the last several months training in Hawaii with his family.

His surgical team officially cleared him late last month to return to full football activity.

“To hear them say that from a life standpoint, they wouldn't restrict me from doing anything — I could go skiing or snowboarding tomorrow if I wanted — then on top of that, to get the green light that I could practice, get contact, that I had healed up, that much was pretty wild to hear,” he said. “I didn't know if I would ever hear those words."

Washington, however, added Smith to its Physically Unable to Perform list, wanting more time to evaluate him and make sure that he’s fully healthy and ready to step out on the field again.

Rivera didn’t specify when he thought Smith would be ready to start participating normally in practices again, or even when he’d want to have a decision ready. He did participate in all four workout days last week, per USA Today, all of which went well.

“For him, it’s really just a matter of, can he do the movements he needs to do?” Rivera said, via USA Today. “Can he protect himself when he’s on the field more so than anything else?

“Remember, he’s going to have to hand the ball off, he’s going to have to drop back into the pocket and throw the ball, he’s going to have to escape and we have to make sure he can do those things and protect himself as he plays.”

Washington quarterback Alex Smith
Now that he’s nearly recovered from a horrific leg injury in 2018, Ron Rivera thinks that Alex Smith could actually compete for time this fall in Washington. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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