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NFL: Why is Washington QB Alex Smith not playing?

Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
Tyler Wombles
Modified 29 Dec 2020, 00:02 IST

Alex Smith has been the catalyst this season for the Washington Football Team.

When he starts, the veteran quarterback's poise and experience give Washington a better chance to win. But Smith has struggled with injury, missing the past two games due to a calf issue.

Second-year signal caller Dwayne Haskins started in Smith's place before being benched for teammate Taylor Heinicke, as Washington dropped its past two games, 20-15 to the Seattle Seahawks and 20-13 to the Carolina Panthers, WFT coach Ron Rivera's previous employer.

Haskins, who was recently punished for violating COVID-19 protocols, was released by Washington on Monday, the team announced.

The quarterback carousel is not what first-year Rivera hoped for his team. Washington could have clinched a playoff berth by winning one of its last two games, but couldn't finish it out, losing by just a six-point average in those two games.

Alex Smith may return soon for Washington

There may be good news for Washington on the horizon, though.

According to The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala, Rivera said Monday he is "optimistic" about the opportunity for Smith to return to action this week.


"He was very close last week. I thought he had an exceptional day on Friday, but it's always about how that person feels the next day and he felt it was still grabbing him a little bit. ... This week, I'm optimistic about the opportunity," Rivera said, per a tweet from Jhabvala.

With Washington's release of Haskins, the road looks even more paved for Smith's return to the field. And that's especially good news considering the team still has a chance to make it into the playoffs.

Smith played college football at the University of Utah. Coached by Urban Meyer, Smith excelled in Meyer's patented spread offense, throwing for 5,203 yards, 47 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in college.

Smith was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He played for the 49ers from 2005-13 before being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he stayed from 2013-18.


Oftentimes, Smith has looked like one of the NFL's better quarterbacks, mixing a knack for avoiding turnovers with running abilities. But injuries have plagued his career, including a nasty leg-break in 2018 that saw him miss more than a year.

Smith's recovery from that injury was well-documented, and his return to the field this season earned him much acclaim.

Published 29 Dec 2020, 00:02 IST
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