- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2011

The Washington Redskins’ quarterback carousel has twirled away from Donovan McNabb toward John Beck and maybe Rex Grossman. Coach Mike Shanahan is at the controls, and he feels good about a situation that many fans and media have questioned. Really good.

“I believe in the guys,” Shanahan said Friday evening in his first media session since the draft in April. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m putting my reputation on these guys that they can play.”

Shanahan established the stakes before the anticipated quarterback competition between Beck and Grossman begins. For it to get underway, Grossman must sign a free-agent contract. Shanahan and Beck both said they expect him to re-sign soon. For now, Beck and undrafted free agent Ben Chappell are the only two quarterbacks in training camp.

Shanahan’s faith in Beck became apparent after the Redskins didn’t draft a quarterback in April. Suddenly, Washington’s No. 3 quarterback in 2010 was a favorite for the starting job. Never mind that he hasn’t played in a regular-season game since he lost all four of his starts for the 1-15 Miami Dolphins as a rookie in 2007.

“You evaluate those games and there’s nothing that he shows … that says he can’t do it,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He plays like a rookie in those [four] games sometimes, but he also does some good things. The jury is still out. He’s a second-round pick and a guy that should get a chance.”

Mike Shanahan thinks so, too. His belief in Beck has helped him move on from McNabb’s checkered one-year tenure.

The head coach reflected on his failed union with McNabb and spoke for the first time about the decision to trade him to the Minnesota Vikings.

“I told Donovan when he came in here, I said, ‘Hey, these are the reasons why I think Philly did not sign you,’” Shanahan recalled. “They were going to go with [quarterback Kevin] Kolb. ‘This is what you’re going to have to do to stay on our football team for a number of years. And if you do that, I think you have a chance to go to the Pro Bowl and do the things you’ve been doing throughout your career.’ And it didn’t work out, and we go on.”

Shanahan’s feud with McNabb became ugly and public last December after he benched McNabb in favor of Grossman. Shanahan applauded how McNabb handled the situation and blamed McNabb’s agent, Fletcher Smith, for handling it without class.

During the winter, the Redskins gave Smith permission to find a trade partner, and the deal ultimately came to fruition this week.

“I still think that Donovan has a great future ahead of him,” Shanahan said. “If he decides to do the little things he needs to do to get to the next level, then it will be there. But I’m not going to go into detail about what those things are.”

Shanahan addressed a wide range of topics during his first session with the Redskins media corps in almost three months:

• He might as well have done backflips about trading away maligned defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth.

“I’ll be honest with you,” he said. “Either way, Albert wasn’t going to be here. If we traded him or not, he wasn’t going to come to our camp.”

• He’s pleased with the Redskins free-agent acquisitions so far. Players such as defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen are young and known to have strong character.

“You got two guys who are 27 years old, natural leaders, and that’s, to me, how you build a football team. You build it up front,” Shanahan said. “It starts with that defensive line and that offensive line. We’ve got a couple young guys that, I believe, our future captains, guys that can lead and play well.”

• Shanahan is optimistic that the level of competition at receiver will be much higher this summer now that the Redskins have acquired Jabar Gaffney and Donte’ Stallworth, and drafted three others.

“I believe we’re four or five deep on each side and I’m looking forward to seeing who takes advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

• Shanahan slept at Redskins Park on Thursday night as he tried to keep up with the craziness of all the NFL business crammed into this post-lockout period. He joked that he charged his $200 rollout bed to owner Daniel Snyder.

“It’s been quite hectic, but it’s been the same for everybody in the league, so it’s quite fair,” he said.

Notes: Safeties LaRon Landry (left Achilles’) and Kareem Moore (knee) and linebacker Robert Henson (knee) were placed on the physically unable to perform list. They can come off at any time, but Shanahan put no timetable on their return.

First-round pick Ryan Kerrigan missed the afternoon walkthrough after hyperextending his knee. He suffered a bone bruise. An MRI revealed no serious damage. He could miss a couple of days, Shanahan said.

The Redskins will vote Saturday whether to recertify the union, Vonnie Holliday, the NFL Players Association player representative said. Holliday believes a ‘yes’ vote by all players is a formality.

Veteran inside linebacker H.B. Blades is nearing a new one-year contract with the Redskins, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

• Rich Campbell can be reached at rcampbell@washingtontimes.com.

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