Redskins quarterback Alex Smith spoke to the media for the first time in months on Monday, emphasizing his hope to return to playing football once again while downplaying any desire to join the Redskins front office.
Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury against the Texans 15 months ago, is still a ways away from returning to the football field. Standing without a brace or any protection on his leg, Smith told reporters he plans to continue to rehab throughout the offseason and "continue to push this as far as it goes."
Prior to Smith's injury, he was without question the Redskins quarterback of the present and of the future. After coming to Washington in March of 2018 via Kansas City, Smith inked a four-year extension that would keep him in the Burgundy and Gold through 2022.
Of course, that one November afternoon in 2018 changed it all. Washington went 1-5 without Smith in 2019, missing the playoffs for a third straight season. With Smith's status unknown, the team drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the 2019 draft. Haskins had his growing pains early on but finished his rookie season showing plenty of promise.
So, if Smith were to return fully healthy, what would his role be? Would there be a competition between him and Haskins?
The veteran downplayed any notion of such competition and doesn't think his path to returning to football intersects with Haskins' growth as a quarterback.
"For me, that's the last of my concerns," Smith said. "I think that his path and trajectory and mine are not conflicting with each other at all. Any kind of narrative of that I think is just not real."
While Smith was unable to play at all in 2019, he was around the team plenty. He served as a mentor for Haskins, and the two were seen interacting with each other multiple times in training camp and at practice.
"My focus is singularly on getting back to where I was and even better," Smith said. "That doesn't mean I also can't be a good teammate. Those things aren't exclusive from one another. I've learned that along the road."
In the early part of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, Smith had his share of struggles. In his first six years with the team, Smith was 19-31 as a starter. He missed an entire season with a shoulder injury. It wasn't until 2011, his seventh year in the NFL, that a team he quarterbacked made the playoffs.
Smith has a perspective of where Haskins is in his career. Throughout the season, he's done whatever he could to help the young passer.
"I've been so appreciative of guys that have helped me along the way when I was young and learned from a lot of different guys," Smith said. "I do feel like my job as a teammate is to do that for everybody, not just Dwayne but especially him, too."
The veteran quarterback did not want to be too overbearing for the rookie passer. Smith cited that Haskins had several different people in his ear at once, and didn't want to be another voice talking Xs and Os with him.
"It's so much easier to be in that room and compete with somebody and be out there every single day with them, and not so much talking at somebody," Smith said. "Really just being more of an example. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that. So I was pretty cautious. I hate to be the guy that's always talking and giving advice. I don't think that's the way you learn and grow."
Smith said he focused on other things with Haskins, such as his preparation and his mindset each week.
"You kind of fine tune, find your way. There's not like one way [to go about it]," Smith said. "You have to find what works for you and how you prepare, your mindset, things like that. I think there's so much that goes into playing at this level, especially quarterback. Some of it kind of comes up as you go, and I think just being there for him, being around."
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