WFT's Ron Rivera Worried Alex Smith Would Get Hurt Again in Leg Injury Return

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

FILE - Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith warms up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia, in this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, file photo. Washington’s biggest offseason need is to figure out its quarterback situation. Trade for DeShaun Watson? Sign Cam Newton? Roll with Alex Smith and Kyle Allen? Coach Ron Rivera says “nothing is off the table.” (AP Photo/Chris Szagola, File)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Former Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith told Clay Skipper of GQ in February that he didn't believe the team wanted him back before the 2020 season following his recovery from a devastating leg injury.

On Wednesday, head coach Ron Rivera acknowledged that he had his doubts about Smith's comeback. 

"It was always in the back of my head, what if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg again? I'll be the guy that put him back on the field to get him hurt again," he told reporters. "I struggled with that every day. That was tough."

Smith told Skipper that he didn't believe Washington initially wanted him around at all:

"When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team's plan. They didn't see it, didn't want me there, didn't want me to be a part of it, didn't want me to be on the team, the roster, didn't want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in, I'm like the leftovers and I'm hurt and I'm this liability. Heck no, they didn't want me there."

Smith had suffered a compound spiral fracture in his right leg in 2018, which required 17 surgeries and nearly cost him his leg after it was infected with necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis. 

But the veteran quarterback persevered and, improbably, returned to the field in 2020. The 36-year-old ended up appearing in eight games for Washington last season (six starts), throwing for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 66.7 percent of his passes.

The team went 5-1 in his starts, a major reason why a 7-9 Washington surprisingly won the NFC East. 

Rivera, who met with Smith last week before the team released the veteran quarterback, said he didn't disagree with much of what Smith had to say.

"It was very positive," Rivera said of that meeting. "We both had a chance to see the other side and perspective. I don't disagree with a lot of things he said. They were fair. The biggest thing we talked about, there was no road map to get us to where we were. I told him exactly how I felt and how hard it was for us."

Rivera also said he believes Smith will land with another team.

"Knowing Alex, he'll get an opportunity to play again," he told reporters. "He'll do a great job with it."