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Optimistic As Ever, Alex Smith Cherishing Chance To Work With Redskins Quarterbacks

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Quarterback meetings at Redskins training camp are crowded.

To start, there are the four healthy signal-callers -- Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins and Josh Woodrum. Then there's quarterbacks coach Tim Rattay and offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell. On many occasions, head coach Jay Gruden will also attend.

Alex Smith has been in every single one of these meetings, going through the motions as if he were preparing to play Week 1 in Philadelphia. Of course, that will not be the case. Smith is still recovering from a gruesome leg injury that ended his 2018 campaign in November, and it's uncertain when he'll return to the field.

Still, Smith said he's as optimistic as he's ever been, and he's cherished the opportunity to aid in the development of his younger counterparts.

"It's definitely a different role for me, different capacity, but I'm loving being down here," Smith told Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael during Day 10 of training camp on Monday. "It's been nice being around the guys. Selfishly for me, it's been nice to help me pass some time here and I've been getting good work in. But at the same time obviously it's a different role, almost kind of like a coach a little bit with the guys, especially the quarterbacks."

Throughout training camp, Smith has joined the quarterbacks on the practice fields at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center.

He uses crutches and wears a white cast, but gone is the external fixator that stabilized the broken bones of his lower right leg. Smith shed the contraption July 15, nearly eight months after suffering the injury against the Houston Texans in Week 11 of last season.

The arduous journey has taught Smith about patience and flexibility. He's learned that timelines are not set in stone, that there are both setbacks and breakthroughs. He's tried to remain short-sighted and focus on maximizing each day despite his physical limitations.

Smith also expresses gratitude for his support system; first and foremost for his wife, Liz, who has shouldered the load during his recovery and with the overall family responsibilities. He also is thankful for the Redskins organization, who has allowed Smith to handle what he referred to as "such a unique situation."

"I knew I had an amazing life," Smith said, "but I think this has really proven it for me."

The crutches limit Smith's ability to throw during practice, but he said he's been making seated passes daily in addition to going through upper-body workouts with the strength and conditioning staff. In working out, Smith realized how much he missed simply breaking a sweat.

Other training camp responsibilities for Smith, who is currently on the Physical Unable to Perform (PUP) list, include interacting with his fellow quarterbacks and the other offensive coaches. Gruden mentioned at the start of training camp that Smith's influence and leadership will be beneficial within the quarterbacks room, and he's done his best to maximize his impact.

Haskins has been especially receptive to Smith's advice having heard Urban Meyer gush about his former quarterback when Haskins was at Ohio State. With Smith around the team much more than during offseason workouts, the first-round rookie has taken full advantage.

"After every play, after every rep, I'm sitting next to [Smith] just asking, 'What did you see? How would you do this?'" Haskins told reporters Monday. "And he gives me an insightful answer."

As Smith sits in these quarterback meetings, he carefully constructs what he is trying to say. He understands there are a lot of voices contributing to the position's development, so he wants to ensure his guidance resonates for each of the signal-callers.

After all, Smith has been in their position before.

"I've been in a lot of situations, I've been in three-way competitions before," Smith said. "I've been in a lot of battles."

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