BALTIMORE (AP) — If familiarity with your opponent means anything, then John Beck has an advantage over Rex Grossman in the next installment of their duel to become the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback.
Beck spent the entire 2009 season with the Baltimore Ravens, who host the Redskins in Thursday night's preseason game. As the third-string quarterback with Baltimore, Beck regularly practiced against an esteemed defensive unit led by linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed and tackle Haloti Ngata.
At this point in his career, Beck has a chance to stand atop the depth chart. With the Ravens, his only chance to play came in the days leading up to Sunday.
"I treated every practice when I was there like it was my game, so I know what it's like to go against Ed and to go against Ray and Haloti," Beck said. "They are an unbelievable defense."
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan wouldn't name his starter against Baltimore and does not intend to choose his starting quarterback until shortly before Washington opens the regular season against the New York Giants on Sept. 11.
Thus far, the competition is fairly even.
Grossman went 19 for 26 for 207 yards and a touchdown in a 16-7 win over Pittsburgh while Beck was sidelined with a groin injury. Beck returned last week and was 14 for 17 for 140 yards in a 16-3 rout of Indianapolis.
"We've got two guys that we believe in, two guys that are very close right now," Shanahan said. "I'd feel very comfortable going into our first game with either quarterback."
Beck and Grossman hope to create a bit of separation in the competition by performing well against Baltimore (1-1). Regardless of who starts, both will play with Washington's first-string offense.
"I've often wondered what it was going to be like to go back and play against the Ravens," Beck said. "When I do get my chance, I want to be at my best."
Said Grossman: "The most important thing to do is make the right play, and that trumps any emotion. I don't think it's that difficult. Would you like to make big plays? Yes. You don't want to miss an opportunity. But you don't want to force it, either."
Beck knows the Ravens, and they know him. Although he didn't play a single down before being traded to the Redskins in August 2010, Beck made a lasting impression on Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
"He is one of the harder workers I have been around," Cameron said. "I think everybody around here has a lot of respect for him because when he was here, he worked hard. Nothing John can do in a positive way would surprise me."
Beyond the quarterback competition, the Redskins are seeking a third straight win over an AFC team that reached the postseason last season.
"I really am excited for our team, because I think with where we're going, this is a great team to play against," Beck said. "I know the type of intensity the Baltimore Ravens bring to every game. That's why they're a playoff team. And we're trying to become a playoff team."
The Ravens haven't had a quarterback controversy since Joe Flacco took over three years ago. Their incentive in this game centers on fine-tuning an offense with several new working parts, including wide receiver Lee Evans, running back Ricky Williams, fullback Vonta Leach and rookie right tackle Jah Reid.
Defensively, the logjam at cornerback between Domonique Foxworth, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb and rookie Jimmy Smith will be observed closely by first-year defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
"We've got great competition going on, and we feel like they're all doing what they're supposed to do," Pagano said. "We've got guys in position to make some plays out there."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said most of his starters will play until deep into the third quarter. Preseason results are usually perceived to be meaningless, even in a game between two teams whose stadiums are located only 33 miles apart, but Harbaugh still wants to win.
"We want to see us developing into a winning and a championship football team. The things that you will be able to recognize, whether it's on offense or defense or special teams, we want to play well," he said. "If you watch the tape on the Redskins, they are dominating in the preseason. That's a huge test for us. They've done a great job with their team, and it's just a great opportunity for us to get better."