All the intrigue and suspense involved in the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback competition is just too much to be contained in a four-game preseason. This one appears headed to overtime.
The Redskins conclude their preseason schedule Thursday night at home against Tampa Bay, but the decision on whether the starting quarterback is John Beck or Rex Grossman likely won't be publicized until the days — or even minutes — before the Redskins' offense takes the field against the New York Giants in the regular-season opener on Sept. 11.
Coach Mike Shanahan is in no hurry to decide. In fact, he would like to keep the Giants guessing about which quarterback to prepare for. If it were up to him, no one would know until the player trotted onto the field for the game's first possession.
"We've got two guys that we believe in, two guys that are very close right now," Shanahan said recently. "I'd feel very comfortable going into our first game with either quarterback. We'll have to make one of those tough decisions, and we won't make it until the end."
Beck or Grossman could have made the decision easier by separating himself from the other during training camp or preseason games, but that hasn't happened.
Each has been similarly effective.
Both were inconsistent with their timing and accuracy during training camp, but they have moved the offense and showed flashes of promise during preseason games.
Grossman, who started the final three games of last season, has relied on his experience in leading a pair of touchdown drives with the first-string offense.
"There's times as a quarterback when you're unsure of what's going on or unsure of the rhythm and timing of everything," he said. "You play a little bit scattered. I haven't felt like that at all. I'm real happy with how I've played."
Beck hasn't played a regular-season NFL game since 2007, but that's not evident from his play. His timing and accuracy have been fairly sharp, and his speed gives him an advantage over Grossman in an offense that requires quarterbacks to roll out frequently to the sideline.
"It's exciting because I know there will be a decision made, but I can only control a portion of that by the way I play," Beck said. "I can't control the decision. I just focus on what I can focus on."
In the meantime, fans, media — even teammates — eagerly await Shanahan's choice.
"It'll be a lot better once it gets down to one," receiver Jabar Gaffney said. "Then we can concentrate on that, and that will be over with."
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