As Washington quarterback Alex Smith prepares to return to practice nearly two years after an injury and ensuing infection that was supposed to end his career, Washington quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese has addressed the dynamics associated with Smith’s potential return to action.
“Well, physically the first thing we have to find out is if he can protect himself and we’ll figure that out as we go and as he passes the certain criteria to get to the next level of getting himself back to the field,” Zampese told reporters on Thursday. “We will figure those things out as we go and when it gets to the point where he gets to practice, we will find out. The drill work will be very important, how quick is he when he pushes off and those kinds of things and change of direction. But I think the other things will come back very smoothly. You don’t lose the experience that you have playing the position. Some of those things will be like riding a bike and others won’t be. We will jump through all those hoops when the time comes. I am really excited about that.”
The monitoring of Smith will extend from drills to 22-man practice sessions.
“We will be able to see through some of the drill work, how quickly he can move out of the way and slide and play,” Zampese said. “In 11-on-11 when there is no contact, guys that come through on the rush, how they move in the pocket. How you can accelerate away from a rusher. Those are the things that we will use to determine the next steps.”
Zampese made it clear that the only issue with Smith is physical. Mentally, Smith is eager to know everything he can about the team’s offense.
“The thing that jumps right out at me is urgency to learn,” Zampese said. “There is nothing about him that says, ‘I already got this, I know this, I did it like this before.’ It is, ‘How are we doing it here in Washington? How do you want me to do it? These are the things and experiences that I have had.’ He adds those afterwards, but he wants to know how we want to do it as a group and that is always first and that is a great example that he sets for the rest of the guys. He could very easily be, ‘Well I know this and have done this and it is like this.’ He is not like that at all. He is fantastic. He is a great example for the other guys, and he has been fantastic.”
It would be beyond fantastic if Washington can put Smith into the mix for the starting job in D.C. Even if he can’t beat out Dwayne Haskins, the competition will make Haskins even better.