Football Team

A timeline of Alex Smith's journey back to the field in Washington

Football Team

After a long road to recovery, Alex Smith finally made his return to the football field against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Following an injury to Kyle Allen, Smith took the field with two minutes left in the first half. 

Since coming to Washington in 2018, the veteran quarterback's career has been filled with miraculous highs and challenging lows. Through it all, he showed incredible character and resilience.

Now, he's back on the field. Here's a look at how he got there.

January 30, 2018

Smith, surprisingly, becomes a member of the Washington Football Team. Almost out of the blue, he was traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to Washington for Kendall Fuller and a third round pick. It marked the end of the Kirk Cousins era and the beginning of Smith's tenure with the team.

September 9, 2018

The quarterback makes his first career start for Washington, and looks very good doing so. With 255 yards and two touchdowns, Smith helped lead Washington to a 1-0 start with a 24-6 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

November 11, 2018

It wasn't pretty, but Smith helps Washington pick up a 16-3 win against the Buccaneers to move to 6-3 on the season. In first place in the NFC East, it would be the last game Smith would start for almost two years. 

November 18, 2018

The day that changed everything. Sacked by Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson and suffered a spiral and compound fracture to his tibia and fibula in his right leg. 


Smith was immediately rushed into surgery, but one operation did not fully fix the injury. It would later be revealed that a serious infection that impacted the status of his leg and his overall health if the proper treatment was not given early on. Smith needed 17 surgeries.

September 23, 2019

During a Monday night matchup between Washington and the Chicago Bears, Smith was spotted pregame walking without the help of crutches in the tunnel and on the field. It was one of the first times Smith's progress had been seen by the public. 

May 1, 2020

ESPN airs a documentary 'Project 11' which details Smith's road to recovery. It was the first real look into the severity of Smith's injury and the determination it took to come back.

July 24, 2020

In the months following the surgery, Smith was seen slowly recovering, even walking on the field without support at times. Still, it was unknown if his football career would be able to continue.

The picture became clearer on July 24 of this year, when Smith was cleared to return to football activity by his personal doctors. Though Washington had yet to determine his future, it became clear that there was a chance he could once again suit up.

July 27, 2020

Despite the positive diagnosis from his team doctors, Washington placed Smith on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

August 16, 2020

Smith is taken off the PUP list by Washington and cleared for football activity, capping a nearly two-year recovery journey. No matter what came next, Smith had achieved something many did not think was possible.

Participating in training camp, Smith was kept under a "bubble" for the most part, as Ron Rivera and company still needed to Smith prove he could protect himself before he could be put in physical situations. He eventually did make the leap to 9-on-9 drills.

September 5, 2020

Smith continues his incredible comeback, making Washington's 53-man roster for the regular season. Even as the No. 3 quarterback, it was still an incredible achievement for Smith.

October 7, 2020

With the benching of Dwayne Haskins, Smith assumes the role of the No. 2 quarterback on the roster. At this time, it becomes clear that Washington has the confidence in Smith that he can play if his name were to be called upon

October 11, 2020

It did not take long, as Smith made his return to the field 600-plus days after the injury. Working the final two minutes of the first half, he looked healthy, versatile and demonstrated that he could take a sack.