ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — It's Rex. By the proverbial nose of the football.
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan ended the suspense Monday and announced Rex Grossman as the starting quarterback, giving the nine-year veteran the nod over John Beck going into Sunday's season opener against the New York Giants.
"I've got a lot of faith in both of them. It was very competitive all the way through," Shanahan said. "I thought Rex won by an edge."
Grossman becomes the latest player to be given the chance to hold a position that has lacked stability essentially since the end of the glory days of the 1980s and early 1990s. The Redskins have used 20 starting quarterbacks over 18 seasons, with this year's competition a fallout from last year's Donovan McNabb debacle, when Shanahan traded two draft picks for a former Pro Bowl player who eventually got benched and then traded.
Shanahan decided to go with Beck vs. Grossman in 2011, even though Beck hasn't played in a regular- season game since 2007 and Grossman hasn't done much since losing his starting job with the Chicago Bears in 2007, the year after he led them to a Super Bowl. Grossman is a 40-40 player, but that's not a compliment: He's thrown 4o touchdowns and 40 interceptions in his NFL career.
Shanahan said he was staking his reputation on his belief both can play, and he maintained that confidence Monday.
"Any time you've got confidence in two quarterbacks, it's pretty good in the National Football League, and that's what I have right now," the coach said. "I'm very pleased with it."
One would assume that Grossman is pleased as well, but he'll wait to fully express it to the world. After initially saying both quarterbacks would be made available to reporters, the team recanted and said they would instead speak on Wednesday.
"He came in here like he wanted to fight for a job, like he expected to win a job, and he did just that," running back Tim Hightower said of Grossman. "But it's preseason. Now the real work begins, so we'll see what happens now."
The race was genuinely a close one. There was little separating the two at practice or through the first three preseason games. Grossman ran the offense more efficiently, while Beck was more mobile. But Beck failed to seize an opportunity in last week's game, when he got the start against Tampa Bay and played a so-so half against a second-string defense.
Grossman completed 64 percent of his passes during preseason with two touchdowns, one interception and a 92.3 rating. Beck completed 62 percent with one touchdown, two interceptions and a 74.7 rating.
"When you're evaluating everything on a day-to-day basis, you kind of get a gut (feeling)," Shanahan said. "And someone makes a little jump, you go in that direction."
Grossman also had the advantage of studying the Redskins' current offense for one season as a backup with Houston under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who now holds the same position in Washington. Grossman came to the Redskins last year and started the final three games after McNabb was benched.
"He's familiar with the system," Mike Shanahan said. "I thought he was pretty automatic with a lot of his reads, and hopefully he plays accordingly."
Shanahan said Grossman will be evaluated every week — as is every player — but the job is now Grossman's to lose.
"Obviously you make a decision based for the season," Shanahan said. "When you pick a guy out, you're not going to say, 'Hey, you think that guy's going to fail.' Obviously you hoping he's going to be very successful."
Notes: TE Chris Cooley (knee) and S LaRon Landry (hamstring) took part in a portion of Monday's practice. Shanahan said the two were making progress, but he wouldn't guess as to either's chances of playing Sunday. ... The Redskins will have four captains to start the season: WR Santana Moss, LB London Fletcher, CB DeAngelo Hall and LB Lorenzo Alexander. ... The team signed DL Chris Baker, QB Jonathan Crompton, G Maurice Hurt, CB Nate Ness, G Eric Olsen, WR Aldrick Robinson, RB Evan Royster and DE Doug Worthington to the practice squad. Hurt, Robinson and Royster were the three draft picks that didn't make the 53-man roster. ... Former Secretary of State Colin Powell will serve as the Redskins' honorary captain for Sunday's game, which takes place on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York.