ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — It's well known by now that Mike Shanahan typically doesn't reveal his preseason game plans ahead of time, so the answer was predictable Tuesday when the coach was asked who will start at quarterback in the Washington Redskins' second preseason game.
"You know me better than that," he said.
Nevertheless, he kept on going.
"Just so you know," he added with a smile, "John Beck will start."
The choice is not a surprise — which is probably why Shanahan was willing to say it — but it does reaffirm that Beck and Rex Grossman remain on equal football in the battle for the starting job, despite the groin injury that kept Beck out of the first game.
Beck slightly strained his groin while stepping up to avoid a defender during a practice on Aug. 7. The injury limited his ability to roll out and bootleg, so he was kept out of 11-on-11 team drills last week and sat out the 16-7 victory over Pittsburgh. Grossman got the start and made quite a statement — completing 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown in one half.
Now Beck gets his turn Friday night against the Indianapolis Colts. It could be argued that it is the biggest start of his pro career; it certainly could be as impactful as the four regular season starts he had as a rookie during the mop-up portion of a 1-15 season with the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
"I'm excited to play because I missed an opportunity," Beck said. "It was tough to go through an injury because I missed practice, and that was frustrating, and not being able to play in the game, that was also frustrating. It's good to come out and get a week of practice, get back into the flow of things and just be excited about a game."
Shanahan has improved the roster in many ways — fulfilling talent needs and bringing in high-character players — but the coach's chances for success in his second season in Washington hinge largely on his faith in his top two quarterbacks. Beck, who turns 30 on Sunday, hasn't played a down in a regular season game since that formative rookie season, when his high-water mark was 177 yards in five appearances.
"My mindset is a little different," Beck said. "This entire time I've been preparing differently. Although it was a tough situation in Miami, I also learned a lot of things."
Ironically, Beck was a bit overworked at the start of training camp. Because Grossman couldn't join the Redskins until Aug. 4 due to special rules put in place following the NFL lockout, Beck took the majority of the snaps and had a tired arm after a few days.
Now he's the one with the extra rest.
"It's kind of been a funny deal because it almost feels like it was two different parts, one before I got injured and then I had a break for a couple of days," Beck said. "It was kind of like a chop in the middle."
This week Beck has run through the drills with no problem, preparing for his big chance.
"He's fine," Shanahan said. "I think John's close to 100 percent. Maybe he is 100 percent. They never tell you the truth anyhow, so you've just got to watch them practice."