- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A couple of NFL truisms are there’s nothing more interesting than a quarterback controversy, and the most popular guy on the team is the backup quarterback.

After Donovan McNabb was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, the Washington Redskins‘ quarterback story centered on Rex Grossman vs. John Beck.

Beck has been hampered in training camp by a groin injury. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is waiting until the last minute before deciding if Beck will play in Friday’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx Field.

Grossman is listed first on the team’s depth chart, which was released in advance of Friday’s game.

“There’s a chance [Beck will play Friday]. We haven’t decided yet. Today he got to go a little bit more than he has the last few days. He’s a little better today, but he definitely hasn’t fully recovered yet,” Shanahan said.

“If he’s fully recovered, we’ll decide that by tomorrow. If he is fully recovered, we’d like to get him some work. He doesn’t have a lot of experience, and the more experience he can get, the better chance he has.”

As for Grossman, Shanahan conceded that he’s been inconsistent and that a late-starting training camp definitely set Grossman back.

“He’s done a good job. He’s been up and down, and I think anytime we take this time off, it hurts the guys a little bit,” Shanahan said.

“We’re trying to get him back to where he was at the end of last year. Hopefully, by the end of camp we can get him past that point.”

In addition to Beck and Grossman, the Redskins have two other quarterbacks in camp, Kellen Clemens and Ben Chappell. Clemens, who spent five seasons with the New York Jets, signed a one-year deal with the Redskins, who acquired him July 27. Chappell is a rookie out of Indiana. Marc Verica, a rookie from Virginia, was cut Wednesday.

At least three of the four should see action under center Friday.

“We’d definitely like to get three people going,” Shanahan said. “We don’t know yet [who will play], because we don’t know who’s healthy.”

“It’s a little different feeling this year. Usually by this time, we’ve gone through 14 OTAs, a couple of minicamps. I’m so sick of going against our defense, I can’t wait to go against someone else. This year is a little bit different because it feels like we just started, but you’re always excited to get to a game where you can actually hit another team and not yourself,” Shanahan said.

Moving beyond the quarterback spot, Shanahan also took a moment to talk about the changes the team has made in the wide receiver corps. He’s pleased to have veterans Donte Stallworth and Jabbar Gaffney but is concerned about rookie Leonard Hankerson’s ability to hold onto the ball.

“You never know until a guy gets here, but watching them on tape throughout their whole career they’re good football players who have both been starters in the NFL and both have a lot of production,” Shanahan said of Stallworth and Gaffney.

“They’ve come here, and they’ve been exactly what we’ve seen on tape,” Shanahan said. “They’re good players, they’ve been great in the locker room and they’re leaders and professionals.

“They’re wired a little bit differently. Stallworth is as fast as almost anybody, and Gaffney is definitely not slow, he can run, [although] he’s not the burner that Stallworth is. He moves the chains, he catches the ball, he’s as consistent as anybody. He gets up the field, he’s not scared to block. He’s just a good all-around football player.”

Hankerson, though, could be a project.

“He’s shown his talent, he’s a very natural receiver and he’s got a chance to be very good, but he’s very inconsistent right now, like a lot of rookies are. He’s been real up and down, and until he can get more consistency, he’ll never get to that point,” Shanahan said.

As for Friday’s preseason opener, it’s still about guys looking for work.

“I’m going to keep it pretty simple and really take the coaches out of it and just give these guys a chance to play so they can compete,” Shanahan said.

“This is really all about evaluating these individuals. We want to see what guys earn the job.”

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