Ron Rivera Outlines How Alex Smith Can Return to the NFL

It has been over a year since former Pro Bowler Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that put a halt to his NFL career. The Washington Redskins quarterback had experienced a setback early on in the recovery that could have headed in the wrong direction, potentially losing his life over the injury due to a flesh-eating bacteria. Despite all that, Smith has attempted to keep the door open, possibly making a miraculous comeback from his once life-threatening situation. With that in mind, Redskins head coach Ron Rivera recently discussed what he believes it will take for Smith to get back onto the field.

Alex Smith’s path to recovery

Alex Smith‘s NFL career came to a sudden stop in November 2018 after he suffered a devastating broken right leg injury against the Houston Texans.

Smith required immediate surgery to repair a spiral compound fracture in his right leg to his tibia and fibula. That was the least of his concerns after that point. After he underwent the initial operation, things quickly took a scary turn as he developed a flesh-eating bacteria that began to eat away at his leg.

That led to him undergoing 25 total operations that included eight debridements, and 17 total surgeries in four different hospitals stays over nine months. That had even sprouted conversation around possible amputation above the knee. Smith was able to recover from that point forward to retain his leg that saw skins grafts used to during surgery involving transferring muscle from his left quadriceps to save the area.

Since then, Smith has been on a steady path toward recovery as he has shed the bulk leg cast while he has moved toward on-the-field drills, including throwing a football. Meanwhile, he hasn’t ruled out a potential push toward a return to the NFL.

What Ron Rivera believes Alex Smith must do first

Although it has been a long journey back to recovery, Alex Smith has maintained a healthy positive mindset that includes a possible desire to continue his NFL career.

Smith hasn’t has wavered in his hopes to make a comeback from his gruesome leg injury. Head coach Ron Rivera recently laid out that the 36-year-old must first prove that he can protect himself on the football field before he can do anything football related. (H/T NBC Sports Washington)

“The one thing that he and I talked about, more than anything else, is he’s got to be able to protect himself out on the football field before anything can happen, before we can allow him back on the field,” Rivera told NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live.

Smith is recovering from an injury that there aren’t any precedents with another player making a comeback. He underwent several major surgeries and many months of rehab to get to the point where he can walk on his own and throw a football.

It’s an entirely different task to play in a football game where there is a chance he can get hit at any given moment. There is still much that he must prove first to show that it is safe for him to go that route.

Will Alex Smith get a chance for an NFL comeback?


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Rivera may have cast some doubt on Smith’s situation, but the fact that he has reached this point in the conversation is remarkable.

Smith is still technically under contract with the Redskins in the second year of his four-year, $94 million deal. Washington will continue to keep an eye on his recovery, but the team is more than comfortable moving forward with Dwayne Haskins as their starting quarterback for the 2020 season.

There is still much Smith first has to overcome to make his aspirations possible, but given what he has accomplished over the last year and a half does leave the door ajar for him to be back on the field at some point down the line.