Rivera on Alex Smith: "He's looked very fluid"
Ron Rivera is not going to say that Alex Smith looks bad. That's not going to happen, even if that's the case.
However he doesn't have to praise him as he did on Tuesday as the Washington Football Team entered the next phase of the strangest training camp anyone will ever see.
The key part to take from Rivera's words is this: "He’s working on stuff on the side with the trainers, he’s trying to mirror all of the activity that the other QBs are doing with Kenny [Zampese] and Scott Turner."
Smith is still obviously not allowed to do even what the quarterbacks are doing right now, which is essentially throwing the ball around to receivers with no helmets, pads, pass rush or anything really resembling football.
Having Smith on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list from the start limits what he's allowed to do in a team concept but it also allows the Washington Football Team (WFT) to have flexibility when the roster has to be trimmed for the regular season.
Smith can still be transferred to the season list if he's not taken off the preseason list but that leads to another question or issue.
How can Rivera and his staff know if they can move forward with Smith being on the active roster if he's not allowed to fully participate in a team practice. That's the rub.
“I can envision it," Rivera said of a potential training camp battle. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he’ll be part of the conversation most definitely. He’s done some really good things last week, he went through all four workout day, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day, they usually tell us."
Remember last year when the Washington medical staff cleared Colt McCoy from the start and dismissed every reasonable concern about him?
Jay Gruden was chirping to everyone behind the scenes that McCoy was going to be his starter.
One reporter was out on a limb saying it would be Case Keenum, simply because McCoy could not stay healthy and recover along with the desperate urgency under the old head trainer and medical staff to clear players way too early in entirely too many cases.
So this is a very positive sign when Rivera said "he (Smith) comes down and he’s just raring to go."
That's something that was not the case with McCoy last year.
Because of Smith's experience and sharp mind, Rivera and the WFT have more time to make a potential situation on the active roster from week one work.
“I really haven’t thought about a drop-dead point, mostly because he’s a veteran, he’s a very smart QB [a] bright individual," Rivera said. To be honest with you, I probably believe he already knows 75% of our playbook. For him, it’s really just a matter of, can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he’s on the field more so than anything else?"
That's the $20 million dollar question.
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Chris Russell is the Publisher of this site, a part of SI.com. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Washington Football Team" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621