Alex Smith is trying to make a full comeback to the NFL from a devastating leg injury that resulted in 17 surgeries and nearly cost him his life. Smith has been fully cleared for football and is expected to start camp on the active/PUP list, but Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera certainly won't rule him out of the competition for the starting quarterback job. Smith just has to accomplish one goal to enter the competition -- pass the football portion of his physical.
"If that happens, I think this is a guy that becomes part of our equation," Rivera said Tuesday, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. "That's the truth of the matter."
Smith, now 36, was sidelined for the entire 2019 season and hasn't played a game since November of 2018 when he suffered the broken tibia and fibula. Smith had 17 surgeries to remove tissue resulting from an infection in his fibula and tibia following the initial surgery, which is making the comeback for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback even more remarkable.
Smith's cap number of $20.3 million is the largest on Washington's roster and his resume is more than enough to compete for the starting job. He has thrown 142 touchdown passes to just 48 interceptions since the start of the 2011 season, leading the league in passer rating in 2017 and eclipsing over a 100 passer rating twice in that span. Washington was 6-3 and leading the NFC East when Smith when down with his leg injury, as the quarterback completed 62.5% of his passes with 2,180 yards and 10 touchdowns to five interceptions (85.7 rating).
"This will be a pure competition," Rivera said, via ESPN's John Keim. "The big thing more than anything else is it will be about how each guy develops. We'll have to try and create as many game-like situations in our practice as possible so we can get a good evaluation of our quarterbacks."
Dwayne Haskins is the leader in the clubhouse right now -- or at least it would seem that way. Haskins improved as his rookie season went on, but struggled for the majority of his first season. He completed 58.6% of his passes and threw for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 76.1 rating. Washington's pass offense was one of the worst in the NFL, averaging 175.8 yards a game (last in the league) and 5.9 yards per pass (29th). Washington was last in points per game (16.6) and 31st in yards (274.7), which spoke to Haskins' struggles early in the year.
Kyle Allen was acquired by Washington to challenge Haskins for the job. Allen started 12 games for the Carolina Panthers last year, throwing for 3,222 yards and 16 interceptions (80.0 passer rating). If Haskins struggles in camp, Allen appears to be next in line for the job.
A healthy Smith changes this entire equation. Hence why Rivera mentioned that possibility in the first place.