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News & Notes: Quarterbacks, Ryan Kerrigan, First Cuts, Oklahoma And More

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Neither Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan nor offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan gave any indication Tuesday whether John Beck or Rex Grossman would be the starting quarterback for Thursday’s preseason finale against Tampa Bay.

“We’ve been through that,” Mike Shanahan said. “I’m not going to go through the pecking order. All I’m going to say is another game is part of the evaluation process.”

Kyle Shanahan said the competition between the two is “not an easy decision.”

“They’re right there,” he said. “They’re both doing a good job. It’s going to make it a tough decision. I wish they would make it easier on us, but I mean, I really don’t. You want a tough decision. It means they’re playing well.”

Grossman started against Pittsburgh on Aug. 12 and against Baltimore on Thursday, playing exclusively in the first half of each game, and played in the third quarter against Indianapolis on Aug. 19. He has completed 34 of 53 passes for 407 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Beck missed the first game against the Steelers with a groin injury, started against the Colts and split time with Grossman against the Ravens, leaving in the third quarter. He has gone 20-for-27 for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Teams typically play their reserves in the fourth preseason game as they look for one final opportunity to evaluate players. The Redskins have prepared their starters to play, however, because of the accelerated timeframe still tied to the five-month NFL lockout.

Also…

  • The first round of cuts took place Tuesday, with the Redskins needing to shrink their roster to 80 players from 89. The most notable player not to make the team was wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, the team’s second-round pick in 2008, though former University of Virginia tight end Joe Torchia and former University of Richmond linebacker Eric McBride, the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association defensive player of the year, also missed the cut. The others released were offensive tackles Xavier Fulton and Corey O’Daniel, quarterback Ben Chappell, kicker Clint Stitser and cornerbacks Dante Barnes and Tyrone Grant. All but Fulton were rookies; Fulton was in his second year with the team and Shanahan said he wanted to cut Fulton early because he believes he may be able to sign on with another team. “He came in in excellent shape, so it’s always tough to release one of those offensive linemen than you’ve got a lot of respect for,” Shanahan said. “He’s came in here, worked hard. I thought he deserved the opportunity to be released a little earlier because I knew he wasn’t going to be on our football team and he might be able to go to another football team and hopefully make that team.”

    On Chappell: “I talked to him yesterday and had a good conversation with him. It’s always tough when somebody puts that much time in, but I had a good conversation and he left this morning. You never know when quarterbacks go down. Somebody who knows your system, knows your terminology is always good to have. Ben worked extremely hard here.”

    On Stitser, who was signed on Aug. 19 as insurance for Graham Gano but never got a chance to kick in a game: “Clint missed a couple field goals in practice. We never gave him an opportunity in a game for obvious reasons – because Graham’s consistency. Hopefully [Gano] keeps up doing the same thing.”

    Shanahan also summed up the reason why so many rookies were cut early. “It’s always tough on some of these young players, because they haven’t had the opportunity to show us everything they could do because they missed 17 OTA days. It’s a little bit tougher on this year’s class than most, even though we had 90 players. You had 17 OTA days, and you’re talking about a lot of repetitions to evaluate some of these guys. When you do have conversations with some of these players, it’s a little bit tougher because you know you haven’t had a chance to evaluate them off as many snaps as you had the year before.” The Redskins now will play Thursday against Tampa Bay and must finalize their 53-man roster and eight-man practice squad by Saturday at 6 p.m. to prepare for the first week.

  • Ryan Kerrigan, the outside linebacker who was the Redskins’ first-round pick, was twice called for jumping offsides in the 34-31 loss at Baltimore on Thursday. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said the two penalties were “probably the thing that hurt us the most last week,” as they cost the Redskins five yards on a third-and-10 one drive and third-and-six on the other, and both resulted in touchdowns by the Ravens.

    “I’d rather him do it in these preseason games than the regular-season games,” Haslett said. “But he’s a guy that wants to get to the quarterback on third down and he understands that, and I think he does have a couple sacks already, so it’s one of those things he’ll have to temper.”

    Kerrigan’s first leap into the neutral zone, late in the first quarter, came a play after he sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco for a three-yard loss. He also had a sack of former Purdue teammate Curtis Painter the week before in a 16-3 victory at Indianapolis.

  • With Kelly out of the picture, the Redskins’ injury report shrinks even further. Oshiomogho Atogwe did not practice Tuesday because of lingering tightness in his hamstring. The free safety missed nearly two weeks of training camp with the strain, including the games against Pittsbugh and Indianapolis, and left the Baltimore game midway through the second quarter because of fatigue. His availability for Thursday hasn’t been determined, according to Shanahan, but running back Ryan Torain (left hand) and defensive end Adam Carriker (blisters) will play. Brandon Banks (left knee) hasn’t had any averse effects in his return to practice over the past two days, Shanahan said.
  • With Tim Hightower and Roy Helu playing so well, the Redskins haven’t had a need for Torain or Evan Royster, who didn’t have a carry against the Colts and only played special teams against the Ravens. Washington may be trying to hide Royster because they want to keep him on the practice squad, and any player who will be assigned to the squad must first clear waivers.

    “I think he’s improved, especially in practice, just picking up the blitzes,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I think he’s a guy who’s willing and definitely smart enough to know it, but the more looks those rookie backs can get, especially in blitz pickups and protection, and how fast those stunts are going to come and those backers are going to shoot those gaps, it’s something that you really don’t know until you see it. For him to experience it, he’s gotten a lot better at it.”

  • DeAngelo Hall had a little bit of fun interrupting Kyle Shanahan’s post-practice press conference, swinging in and asking a question himself. “Kyle, is it safe to say that if DeAngelo Hall played receiver, he could help this team win some games?” Hall asked. “There’s no doubt about it, man,” Shanahan replied, not missing a beat. “We want you to throw. We’ll get you to quarterback [the team].”
  • Though Kelly is gone, there are still quite a few Oklahoma players throwing down in Thursday’s game. Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was chosen No. 3 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, one spot ahead of Redskins left tackle Trent Williams. Left tackle Cory Brandon and running back Mossis Madu, both with Tampa Bay, are each undrafted free agents who played with the two last season. And Washington right guard Chris Chester and right tackle Jammal Brown played together for the Sooners with Tampa Bay right guard Davin Joseph.

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