Allowed to practice for the first time during this training camp, new and old faces were sprinkled among every group Thursday afternoon at Redskins Park.
Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield were working with defensive linemen right here. Jammal Brown and Chris Chester went through their paces with offensive linemen across the field. Tim Hightower, Santana Moss and Donte Stallworth squeezed in with skill-position players farther away. Josh Wilson and Bryant Westbrook made members of the secondary more crowded over there.
But most fans focused their eyes on the fellows in yellow.
After feasting on all the snaps he could stomach the first five days of practice, quarterback John Beck is no longer allowed to gorge himself. Now Rex Grossman is here, commanding his fair share. Watching them divvy up the practice time will become the most interesting aspect of camp.
Beck hogged the ball a little longer than expected, however, as the last stages of the lockout dragged out. Until the players' union signed off on the final deal, Grossman was among 15 Redskins players who weren't allowed to participate with the rest of the team. They were segregated like lepers during warm-ups, forced to stretch and run on a separate field without the benefit of coaches or trainers to assist them.
"I'm tired of being neglected," Moss told strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright, who had run over to check on the outcasts. "Stay warm and be ready," Wright said. "It can happen at any minute."
It felt like the wait when a new pope is being selected; I kept looking around for the chimney with white smoke. Stallworth ran in place and did leg kicks as if preparing for a Rockettes' audition. Grossman stood with helmet in hand and watched Beck continue to run the first-team offense. Finally, nearly an hour after the practice began, the entire roster was eligible to participate.
For the record, Grossman looked sharp on the majority of his throws during 11-on-11 and seven-on-seven drills. He threaded a rifle pass between two defenders for a touchdown to Terrence Austin. But he also threw a pick to DeAngelo Hall and suffered two near-picks.
You could make an argument that the starting quarterback — regardless of who wins the job — won't play a major factor in the Redskins' success this year. Under that theory, both Grossman and Beck will be average to below-average performers. More importantly, the Redskins' offensive line might be such that it wouldn't matter if Peyton Manning or Tom Brady were under center.
But someone has to get the nod for the season opener against the Giants on Sept. 11, and the Redskins have five weeks to make a decision.
Beck has walked and squawked like the No. 1 quarterback, organizing team practices, working out with Drew Brees and taking on responsibility. He's earnest, hard-working and dedicated. He's also shows kindness toward small children and animals. But he's got virtually zero experience and absolutely none worth mentioning.
On the other hand, Grossman has quarterbacked a team to the Super Bowl. Say whatever else you want about him - he's erratic, prone to turnovers, flusters easily - but the fact remains he's had success in the league and Beck hasn't.
Grossman believes he should have the edge based on his experience overall, as well as in Kyle Shanahan's offense. I can't say that I blame him.
Look, we can't expect much for the Redskins this season. And based on the decision to go with Beck and Grossman at quarterback, it doesn't look like the team expects much, either. There certainly can't be much faith that either is a long-term solution, meaning that whoever wins the job will serve as a stop-gap until next season, and perhaps get another year to groom his successor.
If that's the case, the Redskins might as well give Grossman the nod. The No. 2 quarterback is likely to play at some point, anyway, and it'd be a lot easier to bring Beck off the bench if Grossman fails. But having an NFL track record that includes a pair of 300-yard games in three starts with the Redskins — plus a Super Bowl appearance - should be enough to beat out a four-year veteran with four games under his belt.
Not that it'll probably matter much either way.
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