- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2011

John Beck’s final audition for the Washington Redskins‘ starting quarterback job wasn’t exactly a performance worthy of an encore. With Rex Grossman watching from the sideline Thursday night, Beck scuffled his way through the first two quarters of the Redskins‘ 29-24 home victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Beck was 10-of-21 passing for 108 yards and an interception against a defense comprised entirely of reserves. He was inconsistent, missing some open receivers with errant throws but moving the offense at times on keepers and bootlegs.

“Obviously [I] would have liked for it to go a little bit better,” Beck said. “There were definitely some throws out there that I usually don’t miss on, and I was just a little off.”

Grossman, meanwhile, was among 15 players that didn’t play. Of those, all but tight end Fred Davis are projected first-stringers.

Coach Mike Shanahan said he played Beck and sat Grossman to even out their preseason passing attempts. Beck entered the game with 27 compared to Grossman’s 53.

“This whole thing, I’ve tried to not to read between the lines,” Grossman said when asked about joining the starters on the sideline. “They’re pretty honest. I just listen to whatever they have to say and try not to think about it too much.”

The Redskins concluded the preseason with a 3-1 record. Preparations for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the New York Giants begin with final cuts, which are due by Saturday at 6 p.m.

Return specialist Brandon Banks stole the spotlight from Beck, providing a reminder that he is the Redskins‘ most electrifying play-maker. He returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown, racing through the middle of the coverage and benefiting from excellent blocking.

It was a crucial play for Banks’ roster hopes. He missed the last two preseason games with a sore left knee, but he proved he still possesses the explosiveness that coach Mike Shanahan covets.

“I think being on the injured list … it was important to go out there and do what I do,” he said.

Banks was not touched en route to the end zone. His touchdown was in doubt, though, when officials reviewed whether he dropped the ball in celebration before crossing the goal line. Video replay upheld the call.

Banks’ anxiously paced on the sidelines with hands on his head, and he pumped his arms when the touchdown was confirmed.

“I can’t do that no more,” he said. “I didn’t realize I did that. It was a close call.”

That score provided the spark that Beck could not.

He played with the Redskins‘ first-string offensive line, which struggled run blocking. Running back Tim Hightower and receiver Santana Moss did not play. The offense lacked the rhythm it enjoyed in the first three preseason games.

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