Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News & Notes: Quarterbacks, Adam Carriker, Mike Sellers, O-Line And More
By ZAC BOYER | email@example.com
ASHBURN – John Beck doesn’t know who’s starting Thursday’s preseason game at Baltimore. Rex Grossman doesn’t know, either.
Right now, that’s fine with them.
The two quarterbacks have been alternating time with the starters through the first three weeks of Washington Redskins practice, and with Grossman starting the first preseason game against Pittsburgh and Beck starting the second on Friday against Indianapolis, it would appear logical that Grossman would get the nod Thursday.
The depth chart, released Monday afternoon, had Grossman at No. 1, but he was listed as the starter for the Indianapolis game as well and Beck got the nod. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said a decision has been made, implying that Mike Shanahan would make the announcement, but Mike Shanahan chose to play coy when asked about the decision.
It’s not that simple. Though they both played well in their starts – Grossman was 19-for-26 with 207 yards and a touchdown and Beck went 14-for-17 for 140 yards – the Baltimore game raises the stakes.
The third preseason game is when the starters get the most of their work in before the regular season, and any revelation about a starting quarterback for that game could be a hint as to how the season will unfold.
“Really, [coach Mike Shanahan] probably knows what he has planned, but as far as the quarterbacks, what we talk about in meetings is really making the most of our opportunities,” Beck said Monday. “That’s what I focused on myself mentally. I don’t know what’s going to happen. When I do get a chance, I want to be at my best.”
“I just work here,” Grossman said. “I don’t know. I don’t really have any clue what the timeframe is, but I’ll be ready to go. … I just do what I’m told, get out there and try to play well.”
The Ravens will certainly offer a different challenge than what Beck, Grossman and the rest of the Redskins offense has seen in its first two games. Rather than having just a few plays against the Steelers’ and Colts’ starting defenses, Baltimore is likely to play its first unit for most of the game.
“Baltimore defense has really been a top defense in our league for a handful of years, so I think it’s going to be a great test for our team to see where we stand,” Beck said.
“They’re statistically one of the best defenses ever,” Grossman said. “That core group that’s been there for a while – they’re right up there with some of the best defenses of all time. They’ll present a challenge to us, but I think our offense is ready to meet that challenge.”
- If I had to guess, I would say Beck starts the game against the Ravens. That’s not an indictment of Grossman, but rather, the Redskins know what Grossman can do in a regular-season game, with his three starts at the end of last season. Beck is the preferred choice in the quarterback battle, and if he thrives against Baltimore – assuming the Ravens’ defensive starters play much of the game as expected – it would boost his stock quite a bit. Mike Shanahan maintained that he might not even announce a starter in advance of Sept. 11 – you know, gamesmanship – so even if the team has its mind made up on Beck, it might drag on longer. Too long, in fact.
- Chris Cooley said he is confident he will be ready for the first week of the season, but how much he’ll be able to do is uncertain. Cooley hasn’t been at practice since before the preseason began and made his first appearance on the practice fields Sunday morning. Rest and rehabilitation – and an antigravity treadmill – are the choices for Cooley, whose left knee has been an issue since he tore the meniscus last season. What’s an antigravity treadmill, you may ask? Take a look.
- Time for the other injury updates: receivers Malcolm Kelly (left foot) and Brandon Banks (left knee) are still out and will not play against Baltimore. Running back Ryan Torain (left hand) is still limited in practice but is also out for the game. LaRon Landry (hamstring) hasn’t practiced and is not going to play, and right tackle Jammal Brown recently injured the ring finger in his right hand – possibly a break, Shanahan said, but X-rays need to be taken. “I’d say the only one that would be a question mark [for Baltimore] there would be [defensive end Adam] Carriker,” Shanahan said. “He’s got some blisters back there and we’ll see how he feels. But there’s still a chance that he won’t [play].”
As for linebacker Edgar Jones, who sustained a concussion against Indianapolis, he’s likely out for this week and next week against Tampa Bay. “It looks like there’s a possibility, because it looks like he’s getting better, but I can’t say for sure until he gets the tests,” Shanahan said.
- In other roster-related matters, as reported here first on Sunday, running back James Davis was officially released, and Mike Sellers, who spent the previous 13 seasons as a fullback but moved to tight end before training camp, was back to working at fullback Monday. “I told Mike when we first got started I had to get a chance to see [fullback Darrel Young] practice a couple weeks with the first team, see how he plays and see if he takes advantage of the opportunity, never playing the fullback position before and not getting a lot of reps.” Sounds like the writing’s on the wall for Keiland Williams, a fullback who started three games last year at running back for the Redskins.
- Center Will Montgomery countered guard Kory Lichtensteiger’s contention Sunday that the offensive line will have to be better conditioned if the Redskins’ offense is to embark upon sustained drives (maybe they, too, need time on the antigravity treadmill). The Redskins went six, 13, nine and 15 plays on their first four drives of the first half. “I feel like we’re in good shape,” Montgomery said. “With my history of being in the league, if you go on a 12-, 15-play drive, you’re going to be gassed no matter how good a shape you’re in. When you go on those drives, our defense is sitting on the sidelines, resting, so it’s not a problem at all.”
Montgomery, in his sixth season out of Virginia Tech, also said he hasn’t had to adapt much to playing center. He started six of the last seven games of last season at right guard but was a center for the Hokies. “If I’m not starting, I’m playing scout team center, so it’s not really a huge adjustment,” Montgomery said. “It’s just that everybody else is seeing me do it.”
- Oakland selected Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback, in the third round of Monday’s supplemental draft. The Redskins scouted Pryor at his workout Saturday near his hometown of Jeannette, Pa. – one of 17 teams to do so – but the team is convinced that if he remains a quarterback, he will take two, maybe three years to develop. It’s now an interesting situation for the Raiders, who have their first-round pick in 2012, but traded their second-round pick to New England during April’s draft, now forfeited their third-round pick for Pryor and traded their fourth-round pick to the Redskins for Jason Campbell two years ago.
Before thinking about Campbell mentoring Pryor at quarterback, remember that Pryor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, and the Raiders have taken the fastest player in each of the last three NFL combines. Could Pryor end up as a wide receiver or tight end? He certainly could in Oakland. As for Shanahan’s thinking, he wasn’t surprised that Pryor would go in the third round, he said.