DAVIE, Fla. For the first five weeks of the season, Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback John Beck has tried to prepare himself as if he were going to play.
But as the No. 3 quarterback, his chances of playing were limited at best. He was the guy behind the guy who was behind ... um ... the guy.
That changed last week in Houston. When starter Trent Green was knocked unconscious and out of action for an indefinite period of time, Beck moved up a rung on the pecking list.
And as the Dolphins (0-5) prepare to play the Cleveland Browns (2-3) today, the rookie from BYU knows he's just one big hit on new starter Cleo Lemon away from getting his first NFL action.
"The reality of seeing Trent get injured like that, and see Cleo bounce in that quick, I think it was a little bit closer to home of how real that really is," Beck said. "Each game that I've come off the field, driven home, I've always tried to feel like, 'OK, what else can I do to prepare?'
"But in the back of your head you know ... my spot is a little bit further down the road. Now, that road has gotten a little bit shorter."
Dolphins coach Cam Cameron is taking the patient approach with Beck, refusing to leapfrog him over Lemon and into the starting spot.
Beck's life hasn't changed drastically in the past week, but there have been a few new wrinkles.
Since the season started, he's been doing the opposite of Green and Lemon. When they threw to the receivers, he threw to the running backs, and vice versa. And when Green and Lemon went to work with the offense, Beck ran the scout team.
"My time that I was investing in the day was really devoted to getting our defense ready," he said. "I had to give them the best look that I could. When the offense was up, I tried to stand back and focus."
Beck still runs the scout team. But instead of milling around afterward, he runs back to work with the offense.
"I get a lot less water than I did (before)," he joked.
Going from a starter in college to a backup in the pros isn't easy. Especially after seeing Buffalo rookie Trent Edwards get his chance to play recently.
But if it's one thing Beck is right now, it's patient. He's trying to take each experience, whether it's in practice, preseason or something he simply sees on the field, and stash it away for the day when he is the guy.
"It's been different just because I've been in the spotlight," he said. "I've been the starter all through college. I know Trent Edwards pretty well, and when you see him go in, you can tell he's worked pretty hard. He went out there, completed a lot of balls.
"I know all situations are different and I don't feel like, 'Oh man, he's a rookie, he's in I need to be in.' I'm not rushing anything. Coach Cameron picked me, and I trust coach Cameron. Whatever coach Cameron says is going to happen, or is right, I trust him. He's been in this league a whole lot longer than I have."