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John Beck has become a nomad quarterback in the NFL with his latest stop being the Houston Texans.
It's not the life he imagined when drafted by the Miami Dolphins as the 40th pick in 2007. He signed his first NFL contract with $3.25 million guaranteed money out of BYU, but landed on the worst squad in the league with a pile of problems. Since he jettisoned out of that town, it has been one team after another.
But you know what? Beck's approaching it like he has every situation he's faced in his football career. He's holding on to the roller-coaster rail.
From a one-year starter at Mountain View in Mesa, Ariz., to BYU, where he found a soon-to-be fired coach Gary Crowton; he then welcomed a new head coach Bronco Mendenhall, offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterback coach Brandon Doman, good men who'd never held those positions before.
He was their lab rat.
Then it was on to the Dolphins, Ravens and 'Skins.
As a pro, he's had one foot in and the other one out.
At Miami, he was supposed to follow Trent Green, but within a year the folks who'd brought him to the Dolphins were not even in the building, and within two more seasons, he was released.
On to the Ravens.
It seems every time Beck has a chance to do something, the situation changes in terms of offensive injuries, management, draft picks or his admitted own failure to manage situations. Always the perfectionist, he says at critical times his performances dipped below his high expectations.
But Beck is as optimistic as they come.
Tell him a hurricane is coming and he's glad he has food storage. Let him know the road is closed ahead and he'll shift into four-wheel drive. He and depression have never been companions.
On Tuesday, I talked to Beck just as he finished a camp workout with the Texans. He's grateful to be in Houston where his grandfather on his mother's side was once mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's looking to find a house in the Texas city of Sugar Land, where he hopes former Oiler and Cougar quarterback Gifford Nielsen will give him some tips and open some doors.
If Beck were a fish, he'd always find the best current, even if it were against him. A year ago, he thought he and Mike Shanahan were on the same page, that his future had come, that he'd finally got his chance. But when it came, it fizzled.
"It is frustrating, and it has been very disappointing," he says.
Then he looks for wiggle room in the stream.
"I'm very grateful to be with the Texans because their offense is similar to what I had at Washington, where I studied game film of Matt Schaub. I feel comfortable and I'm getting a lot of reps with a familiar system, something I've never had before."
Beck, the eternal optimist, lists the professional things he's grateful for.
He's receiving an NFL paycheck. He's on an NFL roster. He has a chance to compete for a spot. He's never had a serious injury as a professional, no surgeries. He's gained valuable experience.
It's his pot of gold, albeit he's never been able to stay in the saddle as a starter.
In Houston, he doesn't have to learn new play calls and verbiage. He's further ahead with the Texans than he was with the Redskins a year ago. "Schaub is their franchise player but he's not in camp, so that's given me many opportunities for reps and I hope to make the most of them all."
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