By Lewis Gould
Even though he is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, WFT quarterback Alex Smith practiced in full today for the first time since straining his right calf.
ESPN is reporting that Smith took reps with the starters, and that coach Ron Rivera was encouraged by how Smith could push off on his passes.
However, he also must show he can elude a pass rush and use his legs in full if necessary.
If Smith is healthy, he would start over Dwayne Haskins Jr. in a game that could help them win the NFC East. If the New York Giants lose to the Baltimore Ravens, Washington (6-8) would clinch the division with a win Sunday.
The difficult part for either quarterback will be possibly missing receiver Terry McLaurin. He’s listed as doubtful because of an ankle injury that has bothered him for several weeks. Also, running back Antonio Gibson (turf toe) is listed as questionable; he’s missed the past two games and was limited in practice this week.
Rivera has often said he gets a better sense of injured players the day after they practice so Saturday could be a big day for Smith and the team. On Thursday, Rivera said he might not make a decision until Sunday morning. Smith injured his calf in the first half of a Dec. 13 game vs. San Francisco and sat out the second half as well as last week’s 20-15 loss to Seattle. It’s the same leg that he broke in 2018, causing him to need 17 surgeries and almost costing him his career.
Smith has started five games this season; Washington won four of them. In his starts, Smith has thrown three touchdown passes and three interceptions.
Haskins started vs. the Seahawks, nearly leading Washington to a win after trailing 20-3. But he caused controversy for himself and the team this week when he was photographed at a hotel suite without a mask while at his girlfriend’s birthday party. The team fined him $40,000 and took away his captaincy. Haskins was benched after the first four games this season.
In five starts, Haskins has thrown five touchdowns and five interceptions. Washington is 1-4 in those starts, with losses to Arizona, Cleveland, Baltimore and Seattle.