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Redskins visit Ravens in preseason
A solid game against Indianapolis tomorrow doesn't ensure John Beck will get the start tonight against Baltimore.
Darron Cummings/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY ZAC BOYER
ASHBURN--If there was any additional proof the Washington Redskins are treating tonight's preseason game at Baltimore as if it were a regular-season contest, consider the quandary that the potential starting quarterbacks each find themselves in.
Both John Beck and Rex Grossman, candidates for the job, spent the past six days sharing repetitions and responsibilities, much as they have the previous three weeks of training camp.
Now, entering a pivotal, make-it-or-break-it game against the Ravens--at least, as much as one can have during the preseason--the two maintained as late as yesterday afternoon they did not know who would be the starter.
"They haven't told us yet," Beck said at the 50th annual Welcome Home Luncheon.
"I don't know. We'll have to see," Grossman said moments later.
On a larger scale, the revelation of the starting quarterback is largely irrelevant. Head coach Mike Shanahan said the two will share playing time with the rest of the starters, and the preparation necessary for one to start at the position is rather inconsequential when there are only a set number of downs or series to play.
This game, however, represents a turning point in the season--a point at which the winding road through the summer months starts to straighten out and the path through the regular season becomes clearer.
The quarterback who gets the majority of snaps, or at least the one who plays best, is likely to be the starter for the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 11.
While Grossman started the first preseason game against Pittsburgh on Aug. 12, a 16-7 victory, and Beck started last week at Indianapolis, a 16-3 win, those performances were largely against a second-team defense.
The Ravens, who have had one of the most dominating defenses during the past decade, are the opponent tonight. And head coach Jim Harbaugh doesn't plan to have his starters in the game for just a few series; rather, many of them will play well into the third quarter, providing a better evaluation of Beck and Grossman.
"I probably have plans, and then once you get into the game, you probably sometimes adjust on the run," Harbaugh said. "Our plan will be to play them into the third quarter--maybe the whole third quarter."
This is the best opportunity to date for John Beck and Rex Grossman to shore up their candidacy for the starting quarterback job. They'll have extended time in the offense and will be playing against one of the league's toughest defenses. Which player will make the best case to be the top guy when the season starts?
The offensive line had no problems pushing around the Pittsburgh and Indianapolis defensive lines, but Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody aren't just any linemen. Will the gaping holes that have allowed Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and Evan Royster to be so successful in the last two games still exist?
Neither the Steelers nor the Colts had an exceptionally strong running game, but the Ravens have both Ray Rice and newly signed Ricky Williams to lead their ground attack. How will the Redskins' run defense fare against two powerful backs?
Oshiomogho Atogwe will make his Redskins debut at free safety after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, and cornerback Josh Wilson, who spent last season in Baltimore, is also back in action. How will the new-look secondary complicate things for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco?
With Brandon Banks out because of swelling in his left knee, can Terrance Austin continue to prove useful both as a receiver and a returner to solidify a spot