Washington quarterback Alex Smith will start the season on the PUP list, but has been cleared by surgeons. He has not played since an extensive leg injury in 2018. Alex Brandon/Associated Press

 

Alex Smith is getting closer to returning to football, but he hasn’t been fully cleared just yet. After he received medical clearance from the surgeons who repaired the compound fracture in his right leg, Smith underwent a physical by Washington’s doctors Monday and is expected to start training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The move would essentially buy time and roster flexibility while the coaching staff and team doctors gain a closer look at Smith’s ability to move around the field after his lengthy recovery. The team has the option to activate him at any point during training camp or to leave him on the list for at least the first six weeks of the regular season without losing one of its 53 roster spots. The team cannot, however, add him to the PUP list once camp begins.

Monday’s development is another key step in Smith’s remarkable recovery from the devastating leg injury he suffered in Nov. 2018, which became infected and put his leg and life at risk. But it’s still no guarantee he will return to practice, let alone games. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed ESPN’s Friday report that Smith had been cleared to resume football activities by the doctors who had overseen his recovery, but it will be up to the team’s doctors to determine when Smith can return in a full-time capacity.

While on the PUP list, Smith can still participate in team meetings, use the team’s facilities and even work out on the side of practices. He will also still be paid the $16 million he is due in salary while carrying a $32.2 million salary cap charge.

Smith reported to the team’s facility Thursday to begin the league’s mandated five-day testing protocol for the novel coronavirus. Camp is set to begin Tuesday. Washington can hold its first padded practice as early as Aug. 17.

Smith, 36, arrived in Washington via trade in 2018 and signed a four-year contract extension to be the team’s starter for the foreseeable future. But 10 games into his tenure, he suffered the gruesome injury in a loss to the Texans. Smith needed 17 surgeries to repair the fracture and to clear out a bacterial infection that nearly took his life.

EXEMPT LIST: New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Washington wide receiver Cody Latimer were put on the NFL’s Commissioner Exempt List on Monday while facing felony charges from offseason incidents.

A player on the Commissioner Exempt List cannot practice or play in games but does get paid. He can be at the team’s facility “on a reasonable basis” for meetings, individual workouts, therapy, rehab and other non-football activities if given team permission.

Baker and Dunbar were charged after a robbery at a cookout in Miramar, Florida. Baker faces four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, while Dunbar faces four felony counts of armed robbery.

Baker and Dunbar were attending the cookout in May when a fight broke out, and Baker pulled out a handgun, an arrest warrant said. Baker, Dunbar and two other men began robbing people of thousands of dollars, watches and other valuables, witnesses told investigators.

Each player was released after posting bond. The players’ lawyers said they have witnesses who will clear them.

Latimer – who is facing eight charges with four felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon – was arrested May 16 at an apartment complex in Englewood, Colo., where deputies were called to a report of gunshots. Three individuals were detained and one had minor injuries not related to a gunshot. Latimer was the only one taken into custody, and he was released after posting $25,000 bond.

He was initially booked on five charges, but court records show he now has eight counts against him: second-degree assault, two counts of menacing, tampering with physical evidence, two counts of prohibited use of a weapon and two counts of reckless endangerment.

VIKINGS: Minnesota announced Monday that Eric Sugarman, the team’s head athletic trainer and infection control officer, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus along with members of his family.

“We have followed the team’s protocol for sanitizing the facility and for notifying any personnel who may have been in close contact with Eric,” the team said in a statement. “Those individuals have been tested and are returning under the established guidelines. Eric has not had recent contact with players, and no additional cases within the Vikings front office have been identified at this time.”

Sugarman, who is entering his 15th season as the Vikings’ trainer, said he and his family members “are all doing fine and experiencing only mild symptoms.”

The NFL is requiring each team to appoint an infection control officer who will coordinate each team’s efforts to keep the pandemic at bay.

Last week, Sugarman gave NBC’s Peter King a tour of the Vikings’ team headquarters after it was transformed to help deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“As I sit here in quarantine, it is clear this virus does not discriminate,” Sugarman said in the team statement. “It should continue to be taken seriously. I encourage people to take the necessary precautions and follow guidelines that have been established nationally and locally. At this time I am taking care of myself and my family and am focused on their health and recovery. I will return to the Vikings and my role after following the proper protocols.”

The Vikings reported to Minnesota last week, but no players will be allowed into the team’s facility until they have two negative coronavirus tests. After that, all players will be tested daily for at least two weeks.

49ERS: San Francisco postseason breakout star Raheem Mostert reworked his contract after previously requesting a trade.

Agent Brett Tessler announced the new deal Monday that ensures the running back will report to camp with his teammates later this week. Tessler had made a public trade demand on July 8 after talks with the 49ers failed to lead to a new deal to replace the three-year contract Mostert signed in 2019, when he was still mostly a special teams standout.

Mostert is due $2.575 million in base salary with a $300,000 bonus this season. ESPN reported that he can now earn up to an additional $2.75 million in bonuses and incentives. Mostert is still under contract for $2.875 million in 2021.

Fellow running back Tevin Coleman is set to be paid $4.55 million this season despite having more than six carries just once in the final five regular-season games and three playoff appearances after Mostert emerged as the team’s top back.

The 49ers already traded running back Matt Breida to Miami earlier this offseason, leaving Mostert, Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson as the veteran halfbacks on the roster. McKinnon has missed the past two seasons with knee injuries.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle released veterans Branden Jackson and Joey Hunt. Terminating the contract of Hunt will save Seattle about $2.2 million against the salary cap. But it was a bit of a surprising move after Hunt started eight games last season following a season-ending injury to Justin Britt. Seattle added B.J. Finney in free agency and reserve Ethan Pocic also has experience at center.

Jackson appeared in 15 games last season for Seattle and had two sacks. He appeared in 36 games over three seasons for the Seahawks.

 


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