Washington adds Alex Smith to PUP list, days after personal doctors cleared him

Alex Smith may have been cleared by his surgical team to return to full football activity, but jumping back in full speed with the Washington Football Team is going to have to wait.

After undergoing a physical on Monday, Washington added Smith to its Physically Unable to Perform list — meaning they haven’t cleared him to resume football activity, according to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Smith will be able to work with team trainers and conduct individual strength and conditioning workouts with the team, but can’t participate in any team work while on the PUP list. 

The team couldn’t have placed Smith on the PUP list once training camp starts. Adding Smith to that list now ensures that the team can evaluate him fully and make sure he’s truly ready to go before allowing him to resume work with the team. 

Smith cleared by his surgical team

Smith’s surgical team cleared him to return to full football activity on Friday, nearly two years after he suffered a gruesome leg injury that nearly cost him his life.

Smith’s leg was awkwardly pinned underneath him after he went down against the Houston Texans in 2018. He suffered a compound fracture and had his bones break through the skin. He was carted off the field and transported almost instantly to a local hospital.  

The 36-year-old had to undergo 17 surgeries in total. His leg became infected, too, and doctors stopped considering his injury a sports injury, but rather like a military one — as if he had been impacted by an explosion. At one point, they even seriously considered amputating his leg. 

His injury and recovery were featured in an ESPN documentary earlier this year, which showed just how graphic and horrific the injury was — especially when doctors had to cut away large chunks of his infected leg

After being released from the hospital, Smith spent time recovering at a military facility in San Antonio and spent the last several months with his family training in Hawaii. He underwent another check up last week. 

“Everyone was in agreement that my bone was in a really good place," Smith said. "I had healed a lot. They said that given the combination of the rod and where I was with the healing process, I had zero limitations and could even resume some football activities.

"To hear them say that from a life standpoint, they wouldn't restrict me from doing anything — I could go skiing or snowboarding tomorrow if I wanted — then on top of that, to get the green light that I could practice, get contact, that I had healed up, that much was pretty wild to hear. I didn't know if I would ever hear those words."

Smith, a former No. 1 overall draft pick, is under contract with Washington through the 2022 season. 

While his goal since the injury has been to simply return to the field, which would mark one of the best stories in league history, both Smith and the team want to see him get through a practice first. 

“For me, all eyes are on practice,” Smith said. “That’s the next step. I have to go prove to myself and certainly to everybody else that I can go practice.”

His surgical team may have cleared him to return to full football activity, but Washington isn’t ready to clear Alex Smith — seen here at training camp last summer — just yet. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

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