Just a little more than a week after getting medically cleared by his own surgical team sources tell NBC Sports Washington that Alex Smith impressed during on-field workouts for the Washington Football Team.
Smith broke his tibia and fibula in November 2018 and subsequently suffered multiple infections to the compound fracture. His injury was severe, but his recovery was much worse, and few ever expected the former No. 1 overall pick to ever play again.
Now, nearly two full years later, Smith is on the precipice of returning to the football field.
Speaking with sources close to the Washington Football Team, Smith participated in four consecutive days of on-field workouts with trainers and performed well. Perhaps more importantly, Smith suffered no setbacks after the on-field work.
Last week, Smith passed his physical but did not clear for football activities before the team moved him to the Physically Unable to Perform list. Washington head coach Ron Rivera explained the situation.
"We got a bit of good news that he passed the physical. As far as his doctors were concerned, he could resume football activity, and now, he's got to pass the football physical for us," Rivera said. "And if that happens, again, I think this is a guy that becomes part of our equation."
When, or if, that happens remains uncertain, but for Washington QB coach Ken Zampese much of it will be about Smith's ability to protect himself.
"We will be able to see through some of the drill work, how quickly he can move out of the way and slide and play. In 11-on-11 when there is no contact, guys that come through on the rush, how they move in the pocket," Zampese said. "How you can accelerate away from a rusher. Those are the things that we will use to determine the next steps."
Plenty is unknown about Smith's possible return to the football field. Can he protect himself? Can he actually handle being hit again? Can his leg hold up? Can the Washington medical team ever actually clear him?
Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen will also play a major role in any return to the field for Smith.
2019 first-round pick Haskins impressed the coaching staff this offseason and looks poised to be the Washington starting QB this fall while Allen has the most game experience in offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system of any passer on the roster. Both of those players are off to good starts in team workouts as well, sources said.
What is known, and becoming more obvious every day, is that Smith will not quit. And it's time to take his football comeback quite seriously.
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