Beck, Grossman battling to last snap to earn starting QB honors

August 29, 2011

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — John Beck was ready to speak to a group of reporters Monday when he noticed a TV cameraman having trouble with some equipment.

“We’re one camera short,” Beck said. “You all right?”

He then calmly waited a full 40 seconds for the cameraman to get everything fixed. No need to hurry. No sign of anxiety or impatience. Just wait it out.

As quarterback competitions go, the Washington Redskins have one that’s been about as polite and composed as it can be. Beck and Rex Grossman are more friends than foes and are keeping whatever jitters they have to themselves, even in the final days before coach Mike Shanahan makes the call.

“Yeah, I would like to know, but I’m not stressing about it,” Grossman said. “It’s coming to a head here pretty quickly, I realize that. But at the same time I’ve got a job to do, and I’m not trying to worry about things I don’t have any control over.”

Here is Beck’s take on the same subject, direct from the office of redundancy.

“It’s exciting,” he said, “because I know there’s going to be a decision made, but I can only control a portion of that by the way I play. I can’t control the end decision.”

Shanahan said he’s never had a starting quarterback situation in such flux going into the last preseason game.

Even cornerback DeAngelo Hall — who’s not in the offensive huddle — said he’s a “little bit anxious” to see who the winner will be. Becks vs. Rex is so close it’s anyone’s guess who’s ahead and who’s behind.

“It’s making it a hard choice for the coaches,” receiver Jabar Gaffney said.

The duel that began at the start of training camp is now in the homestretch. One preseason game remains — Thursday at Tampa Bay — then it’s a matter of seeing how long Shanahan waits to reveal the starter. The coach has said he might try to keep it a secret until kickoff against the New York Giants on Sept. 11.

“It’s very close right now. I think everybody has been pretty impressed with both guys against some pretty good defenses,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got a few more practices and a game to look at it, then we’ll make a decision if we say something before the (Giants) game — or go all the way to the game.”

Shanahan rested all of his starters for last year’s final preseason game, but he said his approach is “completely different this year” because of the lockout. All players have been told to be ready to go, and both quarterbacks are expected to get time with the first-stringers.

Beck says he keeps the anxiety level low in part by tuning out the media coverage as much as possible. Not since high school, when his mother would save his newspaper clippings, has he paid much attention to the public perception of his play. He also spent a couple of hours with Drew Brees before arriving in Washington for training camp, taking about overcoming adversity and ignoring distractions.

“You can have so many things going on in your head already in the game itself, that if you start adding more into it, it can sometimes be a distraction,” Beck said. “Sometimes it can worry you, cause more anxiety. There’s already enough as it is, playing quarterback.”

Beck did stick up for himself when asked if it were fair that he’s still judged primarily by his mop-up duty with the Miami Dolphins in 2007, when he started four games as a rookie late in the season for a team that went 1-15.

“I know what I know,” he answered, “and I know that I’m not the same quarterback that I was back then.”

Maybe that’s a hint of what Gaffney means when he says Beck has “that little swag” in the huddle.

“He likes to get amped up and get it going, and I like that in a quarterback,” Gaffney said. “That’s not normal, him coming from BYU. That’s why it’s real funny. Other than that he’s like quiet, walking around. Then he just turns it out, turns a little swag on.”

Beck also welcomed praise from ESPN commentator and former NFL coach Jon Gruden, who declared during the broadcast of last week’s game that the job should go to Beck.

Grossman, obviously, was less enamored with Gruden’s remarks.

“I’m glad I’m not playing for John Gruden,” Grossman said with a smile.

Disagreement! With these two quarterbacks, it’s as close as they’ll get to a public spat.

Notes: S LaRon Landry’s status for the season opener is far from a certainty. He’s recovering from a right hamstring he tweaked during warmups before the preseason game against Indianapolis — and that came just as he was returning from a left Achilles’ tendon injury that ended his season early in 2010. “I’ve seen tweaks take two days. I’ve seen tweaks take three weeks,” Shanahan said. Landry is still on the physically unable to perform list, but he’ll likely be moved to the 53-man roster before the start of the season — even if he can’t play in the Giants game. ... WR Brandon Banks (knee), DE Adam Carriker (foot) and RB Ryan Torain (hand) all practiced Monday. WR Malcolm Kelly (foot), TE Chris Cooley (knee) and S Kareem Moore (knee) remain sidelined.

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