For the past year and a half, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith has been recovering from a gruesome, potentially career-ending leg injury he suffered against the Houston Texans in November of 2018.

Although he's still a significant way away from returning to the field, Smith has overcome tons of obstacles since the injury. His journey back from injury has been followed closely by cameras and will be shown in an ESPN documentary on Friday titled "Project 11." 

ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell has been the lead reporter for the project, spending plenty of time alongside the QB throughout his recovery. On the latest episode of the Redskins Talk podcast, Bell explained to Mitch Tischler how Smith's wife, Elizabeth, has been tremendous for the quarterback throughout his recovery.

"Elizabeth might be the hero in this story," Bell told Tischler. "As much as Alex has been through, [she was] the one who carried the emotional burden when he was frankly incoherent during much of that week where he was fighting the infection because of all the medication he was on."

Bell explained that Smith's leg fracture was not a normal one that is a clean break across the bone. Smith endured a "spiral fracture," meaning the break in his tibia spun upward from his ankle to nearly his knee. Complications from the original procedure led to a devastating infection, which required multiple additional surgeries -- 17, to be exact -- and nearly needing to have his leg amputated at one point.




When the infection in his leg forced Smith to make a decision whether to have his leg amputated, Bell explained it was Elizabeth who was taking in all the information she could from the doctors in order to help the QB make the right choice.

"Elizabeth is the one who is processing the information from the doctors and worried constantly about making the right decision," Bell said. "He was in a mode where they were concerned about saving his leg, but the [doctors] were also [concerned] whether to save his leg or not and whether sacrificing his leg might be the thing that could save his life."

Additionally, Bell commended Elizabeth for how she kept the couple's three young children "unfazed" from what was going on, and prevented them from truly understanding the dire nature of their dad's injury.

"Just for her to absorb that, manage that and still be a mom to her kids and make sure that they knew everything was okay, I think [that's] one thing hard to appreciate," Bell said. "There was a lot of media curiosity at the time, and understandably. He's a public figure and people were concerned."

"But as Elizabeth pointed out to me, 'I have three kids who are in school, and I don't want them hearing things that will scare them from other people,'" Bell continued. "At that point, things were touch and go and they didn't even know what was going to happen. So that's part of the reason that they kept their circle close and wanted to tell their story when it was more complete."

Fortunately, Smith did not need to have his injured leg amputated. He's made significant strides throughout his rehab process, and Bell believes one day he can play football again.

However, without Elizabeth by his side, Bell thinks Alex's recovery would have been a lot different.

"Without the family he has, I don't think he gets through it the same way," Bell said.

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