By Michael Marzzacco, special to Breaking Burgundy
The Washington Redskins will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday in the final tuneup before it all counts. The preseason finale was originally scheduled for Thursday but was moved up one day avoid severe weather by a Tropical Depression expected to hit the Tampa area.
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Where: Raymond James Stadium
Coverage: CSN, NFL Network (TV), ESPN 980 (radio)
What happened last week:
The Redskins starters looked impressive in their dress rehearsal. They got the most action this entire preseason in their 21-16 home win over the Bills. Kirk Cousins finished 12-for-23 with 188 yards and three touchdown passes. Trailing 6-0 in the second quarter, Cousins found Ryan Grant and Grant made a nice spin move around a defender to race to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown with 8:11 to go. With 2:05 left in the half, Cousins found his favorite target, Jordan Reed in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. The Redskins scored their final touchdown with 38 seconds before halftime as Cousins fired to Pierre Garcon for a nine-yard score. The Bills came back in the second half and cut it to five before Kendall Fuller intercepted quarterback EJ Manuel in the end zone on the game’s final play.
Meet the Buccaneers:
Neither team is expected to use many regulars, so this should probably be "Meet the backup Buccaneers." Tampa Bay finished last season with a 6-10 record in fourth place in the NFC South. This led to the hiring of new coach Dirk Koetter. The Bucs most exciting player is Jameis Winston, who enters his second season as the starting quarterback. Last year as a rookie that was drafted first overall out of Florida State, he completed 312 passes on 535 attempts for 4,042 yards. He threw 22 touchdowns and used his speed to score six rushing touchdowns. One of his targets is Mike Evans, who is coming off a season where he had 74 catches for 1,206 yards and scored three touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Lavonte David finished with 147 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions. The Bucs have a 2-1 record this season having come off a win over the Browns 30-13 last week. Winston finished 16-for-25 with 259 yards and two touchdowns.
Things to watch for:
* Playing for their jobs -- The current Redskins roster is set at 75 players. On Saturday that number will drop down to 53. That means 22 players will be sent home. Expect the backups and third stringers to see a lot of playing time as this will be their final chance to prove themselves. The most interesting competitions are on both lines and elsewhere for players like running back Mack Brown and tight end Logan Paulsen.
Coach Jay Gruden already announced rookie Nate Sudfeld will start and play the entire game. He may not play a single down during the regular season but the Indiana product has a chance to show he deserves a spot on the roster. This preseason, Sudfeld has completed 20-of-35 attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown an interception. The rookie likely makes the squad regardless, but a good outing would solidify his spot.
* Receiver battle? -- It seemed like the group of six was set, but Gruden's recent comment suggest that might not be the case. Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross have looked sharp much of the summer, but undrafted rookies Maurice Harris, Kendal Thompson and T.J. Thorpe have also impressed. Josh Doctson may be on the verge of returning to the action, but whether he's truly ready for competition after missing weeks with an Achilles injury could have the coaching staff leaning for more size with the 6-foot-3 Harris.
* The big new guy -- Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is expected to play two days after signing with the Redskins and one day after Washington released Stephen Paea. Washington's defensive line is arguably the most uncertain unit on the roster. We'll see if the 35-year-old veteran can provide the needed push inside.
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