Few know what Washington quarterback Alex Smith has gone through like Joe Theismann does.
Theismann infamously broke his leg in a 1985 game while playing for Washington, suffering the same injury Smith did in November 2018. While Theismann was never able to resume his NFL career, he’s openly living through Smith as the current Washington quarterback tries to play again.
“Heck yeah!” Theismann told John Keim of ESPN in response to Smith being activated from the physically unable to perform list. “Go, Alex, go.”
Theismann noted that Smith has “gone through a lot more than I had to go through” in recovering from the broken leg. He’s right about that, as Smith required 17 surgeries and was in danger of needing his leg amputated above the knee at one point.
The 36-year-old Smith last played in 2018. He still has a lot of work to do, but Washington will let him compete for a starting job, which is a remarkable story in itself. Theismann will be rooting him on all the way.
Alex Smith was officially activated from the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, and having him on the practice field must have been a welcome sight for his Washington teammates.
Washington shared a short video on Twitter that showed Smith throwing some passes in a helmet. It may not have seemed like much, but every milestone for Smith is a huge one considering the devastating leg injury he suffered in November 2018.
Alex Smith has reached a major milestone in his recovery from his broken leg.
The Washington quarterback is expected to be activated on Sunday off the physically unable to perform list. His family celebrated the news by popping a bottle of bubbly and with a cake. Smith’s wife shared the videos and photo on Instagram Saturday.
Alex Smith is still making his way back from the devastating leg injury he suffered nearly two years ago, and he could return to the practice field with his teammates soon. If he does, Washington head coach Ron Rivera says Smith will be competing for a starting job.
Smith was placed on the active/PUP list to starting training camp despite being fully cleared last month to resume all football activities. Players can be removed from the active/PUP list at any time during training camp and the preseason. If that happens with Smith, Rivera says the 36-year-old will be “in the throes of this competition.”
Former Ohio State star and last year’s No. 15 overall pick Dwayne Haskins is still the favorite to earn the starting job. Kyle Allen, who played for Rivera with the Carolina Panthers, will also be in the mix.
Washington is going to take it slow with Smith, and it’s possible he could begin the season on the PUP list. That would rule him out for at least the first six weeks of the season, at which point Rivera could evaluate the quarterback situation and see if Haskins or Allen has done enough to seize the starting job.
Smith is expected to begin training camp on the active/PUP list, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. That means he will be able to take part in team meetings and be around the facilities but cannot practice.
Washington QB Alex Smith has his physical today, and the expectation is he’ll start camp on the active/PUP list, per me and @RapSheet. The smart decision to preserve their options and let him ramp up. Remarkable he’s even made it this far. Still a process, but this is a big step.
Players who are placed on the physically unable to perform list before or during training camp can be removed at any time. If Washington decides to place Smith on the reserve/PUP list for Week 1, he then must sit out at least the first six weeks of the season.
Smith was in his first season with Washington when he got hurt after being acquired in a trade with Kansas City as a replacement for Kirk Cousins. Now, Washington has Dwayne Haskins to develop at quarterback, with Kyle Allen behind him. Having Smith be part of that group will likely be a welcomed sight for Washington.
Alex Smith has had numerous complications since he suffered a compound fracture in his leg back in 2018, but most people don’t realize just how difficult the road to recovery has been for the veteran quarterback. An upcoming documentary will give us a better — albeit terrifying — understanding of that.
ESPN’s “Project 11,” which will air on May 1, provides a detailed look at the gruesome injury Smith suffered while playing for the Washington Redskins two seasons ago. Smith’s doctors describe the injury as “warlike” in the documentary, and you’ll understand why when you see some of the footage of his leg. The clip below shows Smith explaining the origin behind some of his scars:
There’s content in the documentary that is far more gruesome, such as an image that shows Smith’s leg when he developed an infection four days after the injury. We won’t feature it, but you can see it here.
It was no secret that Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffered severe complications stemming from his Nov. 2018 leg injury. Only now, however, are we learning how close Smith came not just to losing his career, but losing his life.
In an interview with Jeremy Schapp for ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Smith detailed having to decide on whether to try to save his leg after battling sepsis as a result of the leg break, adding that he was “very much lucky to be alive.”
Smith had a compound fracture, which opened the door to infection. When he contracted sepsis, he was heavily sedated as doctors tried to save his life. Weeks later, he was forced to make a decision on whether he wanted doctors to try to save his leg.
“Next thing I remember is waking up several weeks later faced with the decision of amputation or limb salvage at that point,” Smith said, via Stephania Bell of ESPN.
Smith’s leg was saved, and several surgeries later, he is doing much better. The quarterback is prepared to at least try to mount an NFL comeback.
“There’s enough there that I can go out there and play,” Smith said. “Knowing that, yeah, failure is a possibility … I need to prove that I can come back and play quarterback in the NFL, and if I can do that, that would be great and it’ll get figured out.”
Smith has clearly made incredible progress roughly 20 months after the injury. Given all that he went through, the fact that he can even think about returning to the NFL is a miracle. Even if he doesn’t make it back all the way, he should be able to live a fairly normal life. Considering the near-death experience he went through, that’s worth applauding.
Smith still has three years left on his contract. Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round this year, and added Case Keenum on top of a group that also includes Colt McCoy. They have prepared for a future that may not include Smith, even though he appears to be doing what he can to see if he can continue his playing career.