Even in new role, Rex Grossman not ditching his identity

Washington's Rex Grossman is relishing his role as the team's third string quarterback behind Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. (By John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Washington’s Rex Grossman is relishing his role as the team’s third-string quarterback behind Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. (By John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Redskins’ quarterback Rex Grossman earned several rounds of applause from fans here Monday afternoon, the loudest of which came after he made two daring throws off his back foot during 11-on-11 drills. The first throw was an over-the-shoulder fade to Niles Paul, the other a lob on an out pattern to wide receiver Aldrick Robinson. Both were completed for first downs.

And both throws were dangerous, but they were vintage Grossman. He’s no longer young — he enters his 11th season in the NFL, and along with Donte’ Stallworth is the third most experienced player in camp behind London Fletcher and Santana Moss — and he’s no longer competing for a starting spot at quarterback.

But still a gunslinger, Grossman decided to re-sign with Washington on a one-year deal this offseason, in large part he said, because he feels comfortable in being himself within Washington’s offense. And at times, it has shown in Richmond.

“I err on the side of going for it. It’s just my personality,” Grossman said. “And I think everybody plays football with their personality right on their sleeve.”

Grossman was listed as the third-string quarterback when Washington released its first depth chart of the preseason on Monday morning behind Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Former West Virginia star Pat White is listed as the fourth string heading into Thursday’s first preseason game at Tennessee.

Grossman knows the role well. He has received a similar amount of reps in three of the four training camps, since arriving to Washington in 2010 — only in 2011 did he have a chance to win the starting job. He started 13 games that year, throwing for 3,151 yards, 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

He didn’t play a snap in 2012. His only other season where he clocked in double-digit starts was in 2006, when he started all 16 games for Chicago, helping the Bears reach the Super Bowl.

Deciding to return to Washington this spring tested Grossman and his willingness to play as insurance — which isn’t “an amazing opportunity,” he said, but more a chance to show loyalty to Washington and see through Mike Shanahan’s rebuilding effort that began in 2010.

“Every year has its new wrinkles, but it’s all the same stuff. I feel a strong sense of loyalty to the coaches, to my teammates, to the organization,” Grossman said. “Been here four years. Been here the first year under Coach Shanahan, seeing this whole thing and being a part of it … I wanted to be a part of it, and contribute what I can.”

Part of that contribution “providing a second pair of eyes” for Griffin III, he said. Grossman maintains that he is not a mentor to Griffin III — who is now in his second year along with Cousins.

“Just try to be real and honest,” Grossman said of his working relationship on the field with RGIII.

Sometimes Grossman needs to do the same thing with himself, even with more than a decade logged in the NFL. On Monday, he made a couple of wild throws, but also showed he still has the arm strength and playmaking ability to be an important part of the roster.

“You really can’t hide things,” Grossman said. “Football, things happen so fast, you have to go with who you are as a player. I try to tame that at times, and I try to embrace that at times.”

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What’s ahead:

● Tuesday’s practices are at 10 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, the team is off, and Thursday they are in Tennessee for the preseason opener. Camp in Richmond resumes Saturday. If you’re headed to Richmond, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, where to park and things to do after the session is over.

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