Alex Smith’s return to the football field is just about complete.
The Washington quarterback has been fully cleared for football activity and will be activated from the PUP list, according to NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay. It has been nearly 21 months since Smith went down with a gruesome leg injury in 2018, which has required more than a dozen surgeries and extensive rehab.
Smith’s wife hinted something was coming with a heartwarming champagne celebration posted on Instagram hours before the news broke of Smith’s impending activation.
Smith was cleared to return to football by his surgical team last month, but Washington still opted to place him on the PUP list to open training camp. The move prevented Smith from participating in team practice, but allowed him to work with team trainers individually and participate in team conditioning exercises.
Activation from the PUP list is essentially the last step remaining on Smith’s journey back to the football field. The only thing left would be competing for playing time at quarterback.
Washington coach: Alex Smith will get shot at QB job
Since Smith arrived at Washington’s training camp, head coach Ron Rivera has maintained that Smith will get a fair shot at the starting job.
From NBC Sports Washington:
“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 said last week. “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.”
Former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins remains the entrenched starter at quarterback for Washington, but it’s fair to say we’ve already seen unlikelier things from Smith in his recovery.
Smith’s recovery was horrific
No one thought Smith would have a smooth recovery given how awful his injury looked, but few were ready for the actual visuals presented by the ESPN documentary “Project 11.” Anyone who saw what Smith’s leg actually looked like as it was treated likely have the image burned into their memory.
Smith’s leg looked more like a war-time injury than something you can get playing football. A compound fracture eventually resulted in 17 surgeries on the leg, not to mention infection. Doctors reportedly contemplated amputating the leg at one point.
Recovery was slow and painful. Many assumed the 36-year-old would never play football again, but here Smith is, reportedly ready to compete in camp. No matter what happens from here, it’s already one of the most incredible comebacks in modern sports.
More from Yahoo Sports: