• Reuters


Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera said Alex Smith could make the quarterback competition an “interesting challenge” if the veteran is healthy.

Smith nearly lost his right leg following a gruesome injury in 2018 that required 17 surgeries. The 36-year-old is attempting to resume his football career and could put a significant wrinkle in the quarterback battle.

Dwayne Haskins, 23, was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He struggled as a rookie, but has been the presumptive starter despite the on-field offseason program being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington has a new offensive coordinator in Scott Turner, and the team also acquired veteran Kyle Allen during the offseason. Rivera is familiar with Allen from their time together with the Carolina Panthers.

“The biggest thing we’ve got to do is not make sure we’re divvying up the reps as evenly as possible, but we divvy up who they work against,” Rivera said Monday. “This could be a very interesting challenge for us because of Alex Smith.

“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. It’ll be a very challenging situation to make sure everybody’s reps are equitable, and their competition is the same.”

Smith joined Washington in 2018 and played in 10 games before the injury. The former No. 1 overall pick in 2005 has overcome immense odds to even be in the conversation of playing in another NFL game.

He has been working with athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion on quarterback drills and testing specific movements as he continues to regain strength. However, there is no guarantee Smith will fit into Washington’s quarterback plans for 2020, much less make a serious push for the starting job.

“We don’t want to put him on the field and expose him until the proper opportunity comes,” Rivera said. “We’re trying to be smart. We’re trying to be diligent in this situation because of Alex’s circumstances.

“He’s been tremendous right now and we expect him to continue to develop and grow. When the moment’s right, at the appropriate time we’ll make our decision.”

Rivera also commended Haskins for doing a “great job” of improving as a leader on and off the field.

“He’s competing, he’s doing the things we need him to do, he’s being very professional about the way he’s handling himself and he’s really been very thoughtful in terms of his actions,” Rivera said. “So that’s one thing that’s been a big plus. It really has.”

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