WASHINGTON — — John Beck was again early to the practice field. Then, when rain interrupted the Washington Redskins' practice Wednesday afternoon, Beck stood outside beneath an overhang, waiting for the weather to clear.
Waiting is something to which he has become accustomed.
He's 30 years old and hasn't taken an NFL snap since 2007. After losing the preseason quarterback competition to Rex Grossman, the former Ravens backup quarterback will have to wait a bit longer for his opportunity.
"I've been trying to climb the mountain ever since I got in this league," Beck said Wednesday in his first public comments since coach Mike Shanahan awarded Grossman the starting job. "And I know there's going to be obstacles, there's going to be times you slip and fall. I never look at them as I'm down and out. I just look at them as, all right, that's an obstacle, I'll get over it, I'll keep moving ahead."
Beck didn't try to hide his disappointment. He had prepared himself mentally to start. "I planned on being the guy," he said. "That was my mindset."
As the team prepares for Sunday's season opener against the New York Giants, Beck must accept his backup role.
"I knew a decision was going to have to be made," Beck said. "One of us was going to be the guy and the other one was going to be [angry]. I was the guy that was [angry]. But I'm not going to let that disturb me. I don't want that to hold me back from anything."
As Washington's No. 2 quarterback, Beck is higher on the depth chart than he had been the past several seasons. He also knows that he's just one play away from assuming the starting job. While Shanahan stressed that he evaluates his players week to week, he also said he hopes to use Grossman for the entire year.
"You make decisions that are based for the season," Shanahan said. "When you pick a guy out, you're not going to say, 'I think he's going to fail.' You're hoping he's going to be very successful."
But the coach has said repeatedly that he has every confidence that Beck is capable of leading his offense. If Grossman struggles, Shanahan seems to be comfortable with his Plan B. Last season, only five teams had the same quarterback for every offensive snap: the Ravens, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Giants and St. Louis Rams.
In his 15 years as a head coach, Shanahan has been able to use a single quarterback for every snap of a season just once — Jake Plummer in 2004. In eight of those seasons, he had to start at least two quarterbacks at some point. In 2003, he used four starters.
"I have to be ready," Beck said. "And I'm going to be ready if something happens."
His teammates say that was apparent quickly this week. They were informed Monday that Grossman would be starting but didn't notice any difference in Beck.
"I'm sure he's disappointed, but no one's seen it out of him," said wide receiver Donte' Stallworth, another former Raven. "He's coming to work, preparing like he's the starter still."
Beck said he allowed himself 11/2 days over the weekend to dwell on the bad news, but he has remained upbeat at Redskins Park, jovial in the locker room, chatty in meetings and eager in practice.
"He's handled it in a very professional manner," Grossman said. "His attitude has not changed one bit. He's a good person and good teammate. So everything's normal on that front."
Beck said he "can't waste time thinking about the what-ifs" but repeated that he wished his performance in the final preseason game Sept.1 had gone better.