Don’t count Alex Smith out just yet.
Ron Rivera spoke to reporters on Tuesday about Smith’s progress following a devastating leg injury that nearly cost him his life and for the Washington Football Team’s coach, Smith is still in the running for the starting QB job.
“He’s looked good, he really has,” Rivera said, according to NBC Sports’ Washington affiliate. “I’ll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It’s been exciting to watch his progression.”
Smith was placed on the physically unable to perform list to begin training camp but he’s since been practicing at the team’s training facility alongside Coordinator Scott Turner and quarterback coach Ken Zampese mirroring Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen”s workout.
“I can envision it,” Rivera said of Smith possibly getting the starting job. “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. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.”
Smith’s journey back from his November 2018 gruesome leg injury was chronicled earlier this year in an ESPN documentary. “Project 11” revealed the extent of Smith’s injuries days after undergoing surgery to repair a compound fracture of his right tibia and a fractured right fibula and fighting a bad infection.
A graphic image of Smith’s severely infected leg tells the story of how the 35-year-old quarterback needed 17 follow-up surgeries on his leg and at one point was told by doctors that they needed to consider amputation.
Rivera feels confident with Smith’s ability and says the veteran quarterback already knows a great deal of the “playbook.”
“I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook,” he said. “So for him, it’s really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he’s on the field?”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.