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Alex Smith says he feels ‘emboldened’ after comeback season with Washington

In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Washington quarterback Alex Smith said his comeback season showed him “that I can play at this level.” (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Alex Smith reportedly suffered a bone bruise to his surgically repaired right leg that kept him out of a playoff game against Tampa Bay, not a calf injury as it had been characterized on the injury report, but he feels “emboldened” by his comeback season with the Washington Football Team.

In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Smith rehashed his lengthy recovery from a compound leg fracture and infection he suffered in 2018 that nearly required amputation. After recapping his games as a starter — Washington went 5-1, and he played through the pain of his leg injury to help it clinch the NFC East title — CBS’s Norah O’Donnell reported Smith suffered a bone bruise. The team had labeled the injury as a calf injury.

In talking to local reporters last week, Smith indicated the injury was more “complicated.”

“It has nothing to do with my limb salvage. It has nothing to do with any of that,” he said Jan. 10. “Obviously it happens to be on the same leg. This was a completely separate deal. … To call it a calf injury, I mean, I’m not going to get into a lot of the specifics. That’s how it’s getting tagged, but it’s obviously a little more complicated than that.”

Earlier in the season, Smith reiterated the injury was separate from the one he suffered two years earlier. But he also said injuries to that leg are different because his anatomy is different; he has a titanium rod in his tibia, and the muscle around his shin was transferred from his left leg.

The latest injury sidelined Smith for two regular season games — both losses — as well as Washington’s first-round playoff loss to the Buccaneers.

In his video conference call with local reporters the day after the season, Smith said he planned to “take a few weeks” to decide his future.

“I had so much fun this year, especially given all the covid stuff,” he said. “But to be back in the locker room, to be on the field with the guys, to be playing a game I love and to lose yourself in it, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. You cannot duplicate it outside of here. And for me, I’m going to take a few weeks. My wife has been through a lot and my family; certainly I’m going to take their input. But that’s something that right now I’m still just living in the moment and not getting ahead of myself. That is for another time and place.”

During his “60 Minutes” interview alongside his wife, Elizabeth, Smith didn’t announce his plans for the future. But he said, “This year has only emboldened me that I can play at this level.”

Added Elizabeth: “I understand people’s apprehension. I have the same apprehensions. But I think it’s bigger than football. That’s what I tell people. It’s not about the game. It’s about what happened and getting back on your feet and dusting yourself off, no matter what the obstacle is.”

Smith has two years remaining on his contract with Washington, but his salary for 2021 and 2022 isn’t guaranteed. If Washington keeps him on the roster with his deal as structured, he will carry a $24.4 million salary cap hit next season. If Washington releases him before June 1, it would save $13.6 million in cap space.

Coach Ron Rivera said last week that Smith’s future and effectiveness at quarterback depend on his health. “Really the only person that can tell you that is going to be Alex,” Rivera said.

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