The rehabilitation process for Alex Smith has taken a significant step forward. The Washington Redskins quarterback has had the external fixator, which he had worn since breaking both lower bones of his right leg in November, removed nearly eight months later.

Smith’s wife, Liz, made the announcement on Instagram with a picture of Smith holding the contraption that held his leg together for months. She wrote: “The last 8 months have been nothing short of crazy. Although it’s not over, today is a big milestone. We are shedding the weight Alex has been carrying (literally and figuratively). It’s one step closer to the goal. The resilience, determination and mental fortitude of this man is unmatched.”

Smith has expressed optimism about his future, but the gruesome injury, which snapped his tibia and fibula, has put his career in danger. The removal of the fixator is a step in a positive direction, even though he is a long way from returning to the field. Smith had a lengthy stay in the hospital following multiple surgeries and complications, but Coach Jay Gruden said in early June this was the time the fixator was scheduled to be taken off.

“Alex has recovered nicely,” Gruden said at the time. “Slowly but surely it is going to be a little bit of time, but as soon as he is able to, he’ll push it and get himself ready. We’ll have to wait and see. It is going to be a pretty lengthy process, for the most part, but once he is able to go, he’ll recover a lot quicker than people anticipate, I am sure.”

Smith made an appearance in May at an organized team activities workout, which was closed to the media, where he was photographed playing catch.

The Redskins are set to begin training camp July 25 with first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins and veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy competing for the starting quarterback job.