Alex Smith
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Alex Smith last played in a professional football game 637 days ago. A gruesome injury, an infection, and 17 surgeries later, he’s finally been cleared to return to football activities.

The Washington Football Team activated the signal-caller from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, clearing the way for Smith to practice in pads starting Tuesday. 

“He’s looked good, he really has, It’s been exciting to watch his progression. He’s looked very fluid. It’s a tribute to who he is, a tribute to his trainers and his doctors to get to where he is today.”

Washington head coach Ron Rivera said in early August

Initially, Smith suffered a broken Tibia and Fibula in his right leg, forcing doctors to place three metal plates in the leg to stabilize it. But a bacterial infection in his blood, placed Smith’s leg, and life, in limbo.

Doctors discussed the possibility of amputating Smith’s leg to stop the infection from spreading, which would put his life in danger. Eventually, during numerous surgeries, doctors took muscle tissue from other parts of his body to place in his leg, which has now healed.

When Smith last played for Washington, referred to then as the Redskins, the roster was much different. A veteran team led by Smith, running back Adrian Peterson and tight ends Jordan Reed, and Vernon Davis went 7-9. Head coach Jay Gruden has since been fired, Peterson is still in town but is 35-years of age now, and his stats have dipped, Davis has retired, and Reed now plays for Smith’s first team, the San Francisco 49ers.

If Smith can stay healthy, he will have to fight off second-year QB Dwayne Haskins, selected 15th overall in 2019, and Kyle Allen, who played for Rivera in Carolina.

“I’m extremely excited for Alex [Smith]. Having watched him train last year and just for him to be in a position to try and play this year, seeing him inside and working, trying to jump into drills with us and moving stuff in. You can tell how much he’s put in. Hopefully, he gets back to where he wants to be and I look forward to competing with him in that nature.”

Haskins said in an interview with Julie Donaldson

Whether he starts again or even plays one more time, for Alex Smith to be finally clear of the PUP list and the injury that almost ruined his life is celebration-worthy. Just ask his wife.