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Alex Smith Named Backup, Takes Next Step Towards Returning To Game Action 

Quarterback Alex Smith gears up to throw during the Washington Football Team's practice on Oct. 1, 2020. (Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team)
Quarterback Alex Smith gears up to throw during the Washington Football Team's practice on Oct. 1, 2020. (Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team)

The biggest news Wednesday was the Washington Football Team announcing Kyle Allen as its starting quarterback for Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams. He'll replace Dwayne Haskins Jr., who will be the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.

It was also announced Alex Smith will serve as the backup, bringing him even closer to his ultimate goal of playing again.

"The reason Kyle is [No. 1] is because Kyle has been working all the way through and Alex has been getting limited reps," Rivera said. "I've got Alex next because Alex has been in the system. He understands it, and I want to put the ball back in the hands of somebody else that's been in it."

Smith's remarkable comeback, which began after suffering a life-threatening leg injury in November of 2018, has become even more incredible over the past few months. In mid-August, he began practicing after being activated from the Physically Unable To Perform (PUP) list. A few weeks later, he was one of three quarterbacks to make the initial 53-man roster. During his press conference following roster cuts, head coach Ron Rivera said that if a situation arose where the team needed Smith to play, he would feel comfortable doing so.

"We sat down with him -- myself, [quarterbacks coach] Ken Zampese and [offensive coordinator] Scott Turner," Rivera said. "He was very passionate about wanting the opportunity to play again, very passionate about making this football team.

"That really stood out to me because it really just showed, mentally, I think he's past the hurdle. I've talked to the doctors, his doctors that he worked with, the surgeons, the people he had worked with from the military and our doctors. Everybody was very positive about where he was physically. To me, the mental aspect was answered the other day when he was very passionate about it, about believing in himself."

Smith was inactive for the first four games, but the coaches have been encouraged with the 36-year-old signal-caller's progress in practice. Ahead of the season opener against Philadelphia, Turner mentioned how Smith looked stronger pushing off his back leg and more comfortable making the necessary quarterback movements. About two weeks later, Rivera mentioned how he was pleased with Smith, who was splitting scout-team reps with Allen.

"The thing that's been really neat to watch is you start to see the arm strength come back," Rivera said Sept. 25. "You start to see all of a sudden a fast twitch in decision making. The rust is really starting to come off the guy. It's been really exciting, it really has."

On Wednesday, Rivera said he would feel comfortable playing Smith because Smith's personal and team doctors have fully cleared him for football activity. With Allen being named the starter and Smith filling in as the backup, the ultimate goal of returning to game action has never been more within reach.

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