SALT LAKE CITY — Alex Smith could return to NFL game action soon.

Smith was named the backup quarterback ahead of Washington’s Week 5 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. It’s been a miraculous comeback for Smith following a harrowing leg injury in November 2018 that led to an infection and very nearly claimed his leg and his life. Yet Smith was able to rehab the leg and against all odds, get to a point where he was able to get back on an NFL roster and practice field.

Many figured just getting back on the roster would be the end of Smith’s football journey, but it seems he’s closer than ever to playing in a regular-season NFL game.

Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was coached by Urban Meyer — Smith’s head coach at Utah — at Ohio State, was the starter, but after four games as the starter in his second year in the league, Haskins has been benched — banished to third string. Haskins’ quarterback rating is 30.6, worst in the NFL, and he has a 61% completion percentage and a 4:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Washington now turns to Kyle Allen, who played two seasons for Carolina. Last year, Allen started 12 games for the Panthers with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, throwing for 3,322 yards and an 80 passer rating.

Behind Allen is Smith, who would be, conceivably, next in line to take the field. Washington head coach Ron Rivera said he would feel comfortable putting the former Utes quarterback in the game.

“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,” Rivera told Washington’s team site.

Rivera says Smith has come a long way mentally since his injury.

“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,” Rivera said. “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.”

Rivera also noted that Smith’s arm strength is back.

“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.”