Demoted Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck said Wednesday that he wasn’t totally surprised by coach Mike Shanahan’s decision to bench him last week for Rex Grossman. But Beck remains confident he can still improve as a quarterback if given the opportunity.

Beck believed after the Nov. 6 loss to San Francisco – the third straight start he lost for Washington – that he had made improvements since taking over for Rex Grossman in Week 7. But when Shanahan came to the fifth-year pro and told him that he would be splitting snaps with Grossman last week, Beck had an idea that he was headed back to the bench.

“When he sat me down and we talked and said we were going to divide up the reps, I knew there could be a situation,” said Beck, who seemed focused on improving individually rather than wallowing in disappointment. “Ultimately, I want to see our team win because I know we’re all working our tail off. We’re all trying to find the answer, we’re all trying to find the solution, and I want to be a part of that puzzle.”

In three games and one quarter (that quarter coming in relief of Grossman against Philadelphia), Beck completed 80 of 132 passes for 858 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. He rushed for two touchdowns, but also was sacked 15 times.

In the three starts, Washington’s offense struggled mightily and averaged only 11 points a game.

Beck said despite his struggles, he saw improvements in his game. He was playing for the first time since 2007. But he also saw room for growth.

“I could definitely see areas where I progressed, and I could definitely see areas I could improve in,” he said. “That’s part of where I’m at in the system, and in my role as a quarterback. That’s tough where we’re at right now because we’re in a position where we need things to be happening.”

Shanahan said he thinks some of Beck’s struggles can be blamed on a lack of offseason practices, which would have given the quarterback more opportunity to play in and learn the system.

Beck didn’t dispute that notion, but said the benching hasn’t shaken his confidence and he maintains the belief that he can be a successful NFL quarterback.

“This isn’t the first rodeo I’ve been through in my life. I’ve been through adversity. I’ve been through the situation where for whatever reason things aren’t working. You put your foot down, you continue to grind. I do truly believe in the phrase, ‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do.’

“Coach preaches that to us, and it’s all you can do. Keep working, keep believing. My belief in me doesn’t change.”