Alex Smith Injury: When Will Redskins QB Return to Field?

Alex Smith

Getty Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith

The scene during the Washington Redskins’ Week 11 matchup against the Houston Texans was filled with all different types of emotions. Arguably the two that stood out most were concern and fear, as the injury quarterback Alex Smith suffered was not only gruesome but seemed incredibly severe. Unfortunately, it did prove to be severe, and the question currently isn’t when Smith will return to the field, but if he’ll ever play in the NFL again.

Below is the video of the injury courtesy of Ian Wharton of Optimum Scouting.

*NOTE: The video is graphic and may be tough to watch.

It’s a terrible scene and one that is truly tough to watch. Smith was evaluated by trauma surgeons after the injury and there was quite a bit revealed from the injury. Unfortunately for the Redskins quarterback, it seems his road to any possible return is very much up in the air.

Let’s take a look at the latest details of the injury, player reactions and where things stand for the 34-year-old signal-caller.

Details of Injury

After it was first revealed that Smith had suffered both a broken tibia and fibula, ESPN’s Adam Schefter provided additional information. He specifically cited that Smith’s injury was a compound fracture, meaning the bone broke through the skin and that he also suffered a spiral fracture in his leg.

The news was brutal for the Redskins quarterback, and as The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir revealed, a medical expert provided a timeline of 6-8 months that he’ll be sidelined. This was just a ballpark, though, as there’s been no official word on his potential return to the field. As El-Bashir also revealed, Dr. David Chao, former team doctor for the Chargers, does not believe it’s career-ending for Smith.

“He’s facing a long uphill battle,” said Chao, who was in medical school and watching Monday Night Football when Theismann got hurt. “It’s tough rehab. In some ways, it’s tougher than an ACL tear. It’s a big, bad injury. But I don’t see it ending his career for several reasons. We all know the similarities to Joe Theismann. But it’s different now. This is just by video – I haven’t examined either Alex Smith or Joe Theismann – but 33 years ago, technology was different, rehab techniques obviously were a lot different.”

“Is Alex on the wrong side of 30? Yes,” Chao added. “But, by the eye test, he did not look like he was in his last year or even two. I don’t see Alex quitting on this.”

As bad as this injury is, there does seem to be optimism for Smith’s future outlook, which is a great sign. But for the player who suffered an eerily similar injury to him many years ago, that same thing can’t be said.


NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed that Smith is dealing with an infection following his surgery. He also proceeded to report that the Redskins quarterback will not be ready for the start of the 2019 NFL season.

Similarities to Joe Theismann’s Former Injury

In one of the strangest connections possibly in NFL history, Smith’s gruesome leg injury had eye-opening similarities to the one Joe Theismann suffered 33 years prior. As Gil Brandt of detailed, it not only fell on the same day (November 18), but it was the same leg, injury and the scoreboard even read the same. That was just the start of it, though.

Theismann even addressed the injury after the game, as ESPN’s John Keim detailed. The former NFL quarterback spoke about how eerie it was to see and how terrible he felt for Smith.

“It was just an eerie moment,” Theismann said. “It was surreal. You see him go down in a pile and then there’s a shot that showed his leg bent and I turned away right after that. I feel so bad for him.”

Although it was surely tough for Theismann to watch another player go through that same injury, he did mention to Keim and ESPN about the improvements in medicine. This alone should go a long way toward Smith’s recovery and overall health.

“The memory is vivid,” Theismann said by phone. “It’s like all of the senses, all of the people, all of the memories, everything that happened in that instance all comes back to me. … If there is a positive aspect, it’s that so much of medicine has changed.”

Players React & Send Thoughts To Smith After Injury

The outpouring of support Smith received following his injury was incredible to see. There were teammates, former teammates, opponents, fans, coaches, and everyone in between who sent their thoughts to the quarterback. Overall, very few missed the opportunity to wish Smith well in his battle back from the injury.

His own teammates offered their thoughts almost immediately after the game, sounding off on both what a great person and competitor he was. Running back Adrian Peterson was among those to speak about Smith, per ESPN.

“I knew immediately his season was over,” Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said. “Your heart drops when something like that happens. He’s such a great person.

“It’s devastating. After seeing the pain in his eyes, I teared up, and it hurts me.”

While Redskins players had no shortage of comments, specifically praising Smith as a person and player, tight end Jordan Reed offered a similar sentiment. He was quick to follow-up on Peterson’s comments:

“It’s hard to watch someone like that [get hurt],” Reed said. “He’s such a good person, and he’s a great competitor. We all love him.”

As CBS News detailed, Houston Texans star JJ Watt spoke how bad his entire team felt for Smith, saying they were “gutted for Alex” and that he feels “absolutely terrible for him.” Watt went on to call injuries and situations like this the worst aspect of the game.

As things currently stand, there haven’t been any clearly-defined updates on the future outlook for Smith. Redskins coach Jay Gruden did reveal in the above story from The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir that he hadn’t been told anything pointing to recovery going beyond the 6-8 month prognosis.

We’ll update as more information comes to light in the near future, but Smith is going through recovery currently and as of this point, things seem to be going as well as possible.

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