Shanahan: No guarantee rookie QB will start Week 1

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Robert Griffin III or, less likely, Andrew Luck will be the Redskins’ starting quarterback soon. However, coach Mike Shanahan isn’t planning to hand the rookie the job on draft day later this month.

“When you bring a guy in, you just give him the ability to learn the system and get comfortable with the system,” Shanahan said last week at the NFL annual meetings when asked about the timetable for installing Griffin or Luck as the starter. “You put him in there when you feel like he’s ready to go.”

Shanahan, as we’ve come to learn, is all about competition, which is one reason why the Redskins re-signed quarterback Rex Grossman last month. Grossman turned the ball over way too often last season (20 interceptions, five fumbles lost), but he did throw for 3,151 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“Rex is a pro,” Shanahan said. “He understands how his game works. I think he likes what we do. I think he understands that we’ve gotten better in all areas – at the wide receiver position, the tight end, the running backs. I think he wants to be a part of our football team, and he loves to compete.

“He always looks at it, whether he’s going to be the starter or one play or two plays away from being the starter, he’s going to give it his best shot. If he does get the opportunity, I know he’s going to take advantage of it.”

In assessing last season during the owner’s meetings, Shanahan first mentioned Washington’s 35 turnovers. Only Tampa Bay (40) and Philadelphia (38) gave the ball away more. So if reducing turnovers is Shanahan’s top criteria for the 2012 starting quarterback, that bodes well for the rookie’s chance of starting the season opener.

And while we’re talking about the 2012 quarterback depth chart, let’s not forget about John Beck, who remains under contract. Shanahan has kept only two quarterbacks in both of his seasons coaching the Redskins, so Beck will have to impress to make the final roster.

“I think if you look at my history, I’ve kept two, I’ve kept three,” Shanahan said. “It all depends on who that third guy is.”

Shanahan was then reminded that guy is, indeed, Beck.

“You’ve got to have that third guy on the practice squad if he’s not on your football team,” he said. “We’ve seen some teams try to get the third guy through on waiver, and they don’t get them. So you’re going to try to get your top 53 guys on your football team, and you got to have a game plan to do it.”

Jonathan Crompton spent last season on the practice squad, so perhaps he’ll be the third quarterback in that role again.

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