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‘Remarkable’: Alex Smith’s QB competitor marvels at his mentor’s comeback

Washington quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins Jr., (7), Kyle Allen (8) and Steven Montez (6), watch as quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws during practice at the team’s NFL football training facility, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Ashburn, Va.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Alex Smith’s biggest competitor at the moment is also one of his biggest fans.

Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins, embroiled in a starting quarterback battle with the 36-year-old Smith, has been impressed and inspired by the former University of Utah star’s comeback from a life-threatening injury.

Haskins called it “remarkable” that Smith could even get out and throw a pass after what he went through the past couple of years, including a compound leg fracture, a life-and-death fight with flesh-eating bacteria and 17 surgeries in the process, not to mention countless hours of rehab and hard work.

“So for him to go out there and do 9-on-9, run around a little bit, throw a pass on the run and make some things happen, it’s super exciting for me,” Haskins told NBCWashington.com.

They’re both fighting for the same No. 1 QB role, but the second-year pro from Ohio State is grateful for a “big brother mentor role” that Smith has taken with him since Washington drafted the young playmaker 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“Alex is an ultra-competitive guy, and we had a conversation after practice today about just how important is was for him to get back out there,” Haskins recently said. “I’m extremely happy for him, proud of him, have so much respect for him and know what type of guy he is on and off the field.”

Washington coach Ron Rivera said Smith’s participation in an 11-on-11 practice over the weekend was important for the quarterback.

“It was a very big step because again, it’s back to football,” Rivera said.

Smith received the green light to resume football activities two weeks ago.

The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker described what Smith has done while media has watched:

“During all of the practices media members have been able to attend, Smith has looked sharp with his throws and decision-making. His eyes and body have all been in sync and when he has felt some pressure, Smith has been able to move well. On one occasion, Smith was flushed out of the pocket thanks to pressure coming from the left side of his line, and as he continued to roll, he threw the ball to his open man for a score and audibly and visibly celebrated the sequence.”

Running back J.D. McKissic has also been in awe as Smith has progressively been allowed to do more in practice after such a harrowing experience and grueling rehab process since the November 2018 injury.

“Just seeing him scrambling around and running and not favoring anything on his body, playing free, it’s exciting to see,” McKissic said last weekend. “I’m happy for him.”