When the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off Thursday, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins won’t ask the media if they “like that.” There won’t be any sack dances by Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. There also won’t be what would be an anticipated matchup between former teammates in Tampa Bay receiver DeSean Jackson and Washington cornerback Josh Norman.
This fourth preseason game will feature the final battle for position spots for numerous players as teams prepare to cut down to 53 players Saturday. None of the starters and few backups on both teams are expected to play. If they do, they will get limited snaps.
With that, here are five things to watch for in Thursday’s contest between the Redskins and the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay’s reserve linebackers
The Buccaneers’ top three linebackers are locks – Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and rookie Kendall Beckwith. The remaining spots are up for grabs. The main question is whether the Buccaneers will keep five or six players on this unit. Adarius Glanton is a good bet to make the squad.
He can cement his spot against Washington. Then it gets interesting. There’s Riley Bullough, the Hard Knocks star who has impressed coaches with his play and his leadership. There’s Cameron Lynch, who plays well on special teams. Also, there is Devante Bond, the 2016 sixth-round pick who has missed time this camp because of injury. He started camp as the starter at strongside linebacker. His situation is up in the air.
Will Redskins keep two or three quarterbacks on their roster?
Nate Sudfield is scheduled to play the entire game under center for the Redskins. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are expected to sit out. Sudfield hasn’t gotten many snaps during the preseason but the 2016 sixth-round pick will get to show how he runs a team and how much he has grown since his rookie season. He is playing for a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
During the preseason, Sudfield has completed 11-of-23 passes for 132 yards. His performance will go a long way in determining his immediate future with the squad.
Buccaneers wide receiver depth
Tampa Bay’s top four receivers are locked – Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries and Chris Godwin. The fifth and possibly sixth receiver jobs are up in the air. Bernard Reedy has helped himself out with his special teams play (punt returns in particular). He also has six catches in the preseason. Josh Huff, Freddie Martino and Donteea Dye are also in the hunt. The competition is tight and will be decided Thursday.
Will Doctson play for Washington?
Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson’s short NFL career has been plagued by injuries. His first season was limited because of an injury to his Achilles. During this year’s training camp, he had a hamstring injury holding him back. Last week, in what was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for the regular season, Doctson felt his leg tightened up and the Redskins grounded him after warm-ups before their contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Doctson, a 2016 first-round pick out of TCU, hasn’t had much game action in his career. Should the Redskins sit him for Thursday’s preseason game and get him ready for the regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles or should they give him a few snaps just to get some game action?
If Doctson is going to play a big role in the revamped receiving corp, the Redskins should sit him out of Thursday’s contest. But if he sees a little action, then watching him run routes and cutting will be critical, especially against players who will be fighting for roster spots.
Tampa Bay tight (end) competition
Don’t expect Cameron Brate or O.J. Howard to play. If the Buccaneers keep four tight ends, can veteran Luke Stocker remain on the roster? Has Alan Cross shown enough to warrant a spot? Has Canadian Antony Auclair done enough to cross the border? If the Buccaneers keep three, then the battle intensifies.
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