Smith could be in mix for starting QB in Washington

Pete Grathoff The Kansas City Star
Washington quarterback Alex Smith (11) could be in the mix for the team's starting quarterback job.

Washington head coach Ron Rivera has yet to name a starting quarterback for the 2020 season, and an unlikely candidate could be in the mix.

Dwayne Haskins, who started seven games a year ago, would seem to have the inside track for the job, but Rivera told reporters Tuesday that former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith could be part of the competition.

Smith started training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list, so he can't join the team in on-field activities. But Rivera said Smith has worked to the side with offensive coordinator Scott Turner and quarterbacks coach Kenny Zampese.

Rivera was asked Tuesday if Smith has a chance to be part of the quarterback competition.

"I can envision it, and I said 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. "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, and he comes out and he's just raring to go so we'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

It's another remarkable turn in Smith's recovery. His right fibula and tibia were fractured in a game on Nov. 18, 2018. After surgery, Smith's leg was infected with a flesh-eating bacteria. He had eight surgeries to stop that infection and doctors considered amputation in an effort to save his life.

So just having Smith back with the team is amazing. And Rivera has liked what he's seen from Smith, who played for the Chiefs from 2013-17 before being traded to Washington.

"He's looked good, he really has," Rivera said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression. He's working off to the side with the trainers, he's trying to mirror all the activity that the other quarterbacks are doing with Kenny and Scott Turner, and he gets a chance to work on all those techniques.

"He's looked really fluid, he really has, and it's a tribute to who he is. It's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors that have helped him get to where he is today."

Rivera wasn't concerned that Smith, 36, wasn't on the field with the team at this time.

"He's a veteran, he's a very smart quarterback, bright individual and to be honest with you, I believe he probably already knows 75% of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do. Can he protect himself when he's on the field more so than anything else, because 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."