- The Washington Times - Monday, November 19, 2018

ASHBURN — Colt McCoy addressed his teammates Sunday after Washington’s 23-21 loss to the Houston Texans. The Redskins quarterback — who will now be the starter following Alex Smith’s season-ending leg injury — didn’t take long to get to the point.

“You’re in good hands with me,” he said, according to several players.

The Redskins say they have full confidence in McCoy as the 32-year-old prepares for Thursday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

And while the Redskins signed journeyman Mark Sanchez on Monday, McCoy appears to be set to lead the team for the next six games — barring injury or horrific play.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this is a “great opportunity” for McCoy, who will make his first start since 2014.

That season, he went 1-3 as a starter — throwing for 929 yards for three touchdowns to three interceptions, while completing 68.97 percent of his passes.

The quarterback’s lone win came at Dallas, a game in which the Redskins pulled off a 20-17 upset on “Monday Night Football,” with McCoy completing 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards.

“He made some big-time throws in that game despite being under a lot of pressure,” Gruden said. “It just shows what type of toughness he has. That’s never going to change with Colt.

“The competitive fire he has will rub off on anybody. It will be a good thing for a lot of people.”

McCoy’s speech in the locker room already had that effect on some. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said the message meant a lot to the group. “We needed it,” he said. Running back Chris Thompson added the speech hyped the team up for Dallas.

McCoy, meanwhile, has been patiently waiting for another chance to get significant playing time.

In 2014, the Texas product wasn’t benched for performance — his season was cut short with a neck injury suffered in Week 15. The following year, he lost a quarterback competition in camp to Kirk Cousins, who held the job until 2018.

There was a moment this offseason, he admitted in training camp, when McCoy wondered if he’d become the full-time starter with Cousins set to depart in free agency.

Instead, the Redskins traded for Smith — a move McCoy said he understood.

“You pray for opportunities to get to play,” McCoy said after the Texans’ loss. “You never like to see how it happened today, but for me, I just have to go out there and give it all I’ve got. I’ve been a starter before, had it taken away, and it’s not a good feeling.

“I kind of battled my way back.”

McCoy, like Smith, once looked like a bust. After being drafted in the third round in 2010, McCoy had an up-and-down tenure with the Cleveland Browns. He started 24 games across his first two seasons, though he had a 1:1 touchdown-interception ratio. In December 2011, McCoy suffered a season-ending concussion and he became a backup the next season.

McCoy said he’s learned since then, and Gruden said McCoy’s familiarity with the system will help the Redskins remain competitive.

Washington, of course, needs McCoy to play well — at least enough for the defense and run game to be productive.

The Redskins still hold a one-game lead in the NFC East and have four division games left. Gruden said McCoy is going to do “just fine.”

Thompson agreed.

“He’s got that Texas quarterback magic in him or something,” Thompson said. “Quarterbacks from Texas, they’re just tough. They’re going to do everything to win games. I know he’s a guy who’s going to go out there and put his body on the line.”

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