12:12 PM ET

LANDOVER, Md. — The emotions were difficult to process. There was sadness: When Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy learned the extent of Alex Smith’s season-ending injury, his shoulders slumped, his head lowered as he dressed at his locker. This is not how McCoy wanted to get his first real opportunity in four years.

He also acknowledged being excited to play. After all, he hadn’t taken a snap in a game since the 2015 season finale and none in a game that mattered since late in 2014. And, as McCoy walked back into the locker room Sunday following his news conference, he said a few times, “I feel good.” Not about what happened, of course, but about how he felt physically and what he could accomplish.

The Redskins need McCoy to help them win the NFC East over the next six weeks. After Sunday’s 23-21 loss to Houston, they’re clinging to a one-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys, whom they play Thursday afternoon. Smith is out with a broken tibia and fibula.

From 2016, a day in the life of Colt McCoy as Redskins backup QB: For the past four years, in relative anonymity, McCoy has worked

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