Alex Smith made his much-anticipated return to the football field Sunday, entering the game in the second quarter of Washington’s Week 5 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. The veteran quarterback had not played in a game in nearly two years, breaking multiple bones in his leg after being sacked in 2018.
With Smith’s first game also came his first hit, and it was no gentle tap. Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald grabbed Smith from behind before jumping on his back to drive him to the ground.
After the hit drew scrutiny from those concerned for Smith’s leg, former Washington returner Brian Mitchell on NBC Sports Washington's Washington Football Postgame Live talked about both hits Donald dealt to Smith during Los Angeles’ 30-10 win.
“If you’ve watched any Aaron Donald football games, he jumps on the quarterbacks’ backs a lot,” Mitchell said. “He does it over and over again. I don’t think Aaron Donald did that to try and do anything wrong to Alex Smith. Aaron Donald, that is what he does. The second time when he grabbed him, the whistle was blown so quick that he just held him up — he didn’t throw him to the ground.”
Donald was evidently impressed by how well Smith’s leg held up after the tackle.
Mitchell went on to say that Smith knew what he was signing up for when he stepped on the field.
“This is football and I don’t understand how we’ve changed our minds around like we’re watching touch,” Mitchell said. “It’s tackle football with grown a-- men playing this game and I think, ultimately, we’re gonna see guys get hit. They’re gonna get hit hard…there’s a lot of stuff in the sport that seems a little strange but I don’t think he was trying to hurt him. He was trying to tackle him, he was trying to get him to the ground.”
Even though Washington plans to keep Kyle Allen under center next week if he’s healthy. Smith will still be around as an option should Allen struggle or get hurt again. When he does play again, Mitchell doesn’t expect any defensive players to go easy on him.
“If you’re on the football field, you told me that you are able to go out there and play this game of football,” Mitchell said. “So I’m not supposed to change the way I play because you are hurt. If you’re on the field, you’re healthy and I think that’s the way everybody looks at this whole deal.”