Washington QB Alex Smith Cleared to Return After Suffering Leg Injury

Blake SchusterAnalyst II

Washington Redskin's Alex Smith during the first half of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game between Texas and Utah in San Antonio, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Alex Smith has been cleared to return to football activities for the first time since fracturing his leg in November 2018. After 17 surgeries and a grueling rehabilitation process detailed in the ESPN documentary Project 11, Smith will take the next step in his comeback attempt.

Washington Football Team @WashingtonNFL

The next step in the comeback... Alex Smith has been activated off the PUP list. https://t.co/keDJK51PV7

Elizabeth Smith, the QB's wife, posted videos on Instagram of their family celebrating earlier Saturday with the caption "hard work pays off."

Sports Illustrated @SInow

Alex Smith and his family celebrating because he's been cleared for football activities ♥️ (via @lizbsmith11) https://t.co/yEHpPJ3W6d

J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington first reported the news on Saturday.

Smith, 36, endured a spiral and compound fracture to his tibia and fibula in his right leg along with necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis during his recovery that could have cost him his life. 

Through it all, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005 has maintained a desire to return to the field and continue his NFL career. Saturday's development brings him one large step closer. 

The next challenge will feel a lot more normal for the longtime veteran: battling for Washington's starting role. 

New head coach Ron Rivera already commented that Smith will have his chance to win the job back from second-year pro Dwayne Haskins Jr. 

"If Alex is healthy and continues to get healthy and we do activate him, he's going to be in the throes of this competition," Rivera told reporters. "It's going to unfold very nicely as a football team for us because competition is only going to make you better. It's going to push the young guys as well."

Smith has started 161 career NFL games, compiling 34,068 total yards with 193 touchdowns and 101 interceptions. 

After almost two years away from the game, he might finally have a chance to add to those numbers.