Washington football team coach Ron Rivera said he’s confident in what quarterback Alex Smith has done but wants to see more before he can pass the football physical. But if that happens, Rivera said, Smith becomes part of the quarterback competition.
Washington placed Smith and linebacker Reuben Foster on the physically unable to perform list Monday. Smith had been cleared to resume activity by his own doctors, one of whom is Robin West — Washington’s head team physician.
Smith is trying to make a full comeback from a broken fibula and tibia in November 2018 — and 17 subsequent surgeries. Washington will have him work on the side with trainers and the strength and conditioning coaches to assess his recovery.
“You don’t know until you get them on the field and do football-specific drills and see how the injuries react,” Rivera said. “That’s all part of passing the football physical.
“The big thing for us, we want to get a chance to look at them, see how they’re doing. You can work out and do all you want going straight ahead and sideways, but we have to see the football movement.”
Rivera said that both Smith and Foster, who suffered a torn ACL and nerve damage in his foot in May 2019, look “extremely good.”
If Washington’s staff sees what it needs to out of Smith, Rivera said, then “this is a guy that becomes part of our equation. He’ll be part of a competition going forward.”
Smith was in his first season as Washington’s starting quarterback when he was injured. The team was 6-3 and Smith was helping more by taking care of the ball, helping the defense and field position, and providing intangibles than by leading a potent offense.
Washington’s quarterback plans center around Dwayne Haskins, the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft. At one point this offseason, Rivera said that if there is a truncated training camp — perhaps only two or three weeks long — then Kyle Allen might have an advantage. Allen, acquired in March, played two seasons with Carolina under current Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner.
Barring any shutdown because of the coronavirus, they will have a longer camp, albeit with no preseason games.
“I still think it’s a competition because we have a longer period of time than I anticipated,” he said. “This will be a pure competition. 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.”
It will be challenging.
“The hard part as far as creating game-like situations is really the speed and the tempo,” Rivera said. “That’s the one thing you can’t simulate because it’s a different feel, a different vibe, when playing a game as opposed to practice.”