Due to potential severe weather in the Tampa area, the Redskins and Buccaneers will play a rare Wednesday night game at Raymond James Stadium.
When it was announced late Tuesday evening that the Washington Redskins fourth and final preseason game was moved up a day, some players – notably linebacker Martrell Spaight – couldn't believe it.
"I was actually getting ready to make a bet with my teammate like, 'Man, I bet you we don't play tomorrow.'" Spaight said with a laugh. "He showed me the report and showed me that it was, and – you've got to do what you've got to do."
Most of Spaight's teammates echoed those same sentiments as the team will have to mentally and physically prepare for a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that will be played Wednesday night at 8 p.m. – a day earlier than originally scheduled – due to the impending landfall of Tropical Depression Nine.
This means Washington's plans have been altered. Rarely does the NFL ever play games on a Wednesday night.
"It's kind of reminiscent of high school where you're riding on the bus and then showing up and playing and then coming back that same day. I guess that would be the last time any of us have done that," rookie wide receiver Kendal Thompson said. "But it's the same preparation, you just kind of have to focus more on your hydration and stuff – as far as today goes – because you're going to be traveling on the plane tomorrow. But I think the way we're conditioned and the way we've been conditioned throughout camp physically, I think we'll be ready to go."
"We definitely weren't expecting to play as early, especially practicing the day before and flying the same day (as the game)," safety Su'a Cravens said. "We've got to be prepared and come in mentally ready to play Tampa Bay."
Cravens, like many other young Redskins players, will have the chance to showcase his skills with extra reps in Wednesday's game as Washington's starters will not travel to the game.
"I look forward to it. I can't wait to be out there for all four quarters. I'm going to try and do my best [Will] Compton impersonation," Cravens said.
Like Cravens, Spaight has been a bright spot in this preseason after coming off a rookie season in which he was limited to one game due to a concussion. He will start at inside linebacker, where he estimated he could play 100 snaps in Wednesday's game.
"I think it will be a good test," Spaight said. "Just going out there and leading everyone out there – it's my job now. I'm the starting middle linebacker so I think it will be a good test for me to see where I'm at physically and mentally. I'm all for the challenge."
While players like Cravens and Spaight will be looking to sharpen their skills for Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, plenty others will be looking to make it that far.
With the roster down to 75 players, there are still 22 cuts that remain to reach the opening day 53. Wednesday's game in Tampa Bay is the last chance for many to make an impression on the coaching staff.
Thompson, a rookie receiver from Utah, had one of the most memorable plays from the preseason. In the Redskins' preseason home opener, Thompson made a sensational one-handed touchdown catch that turned out to be the game-winner in a 22-18 win over the New York Jets.
"For me, I just try to go out and be the same guy I've been all camp," Thompson said. "I'm a big believer in the stuff that shows up in practice is going to show up in the game. Yes, it is an audition: It's a live game against a different opponent, but we're still running our same plays, same techniques, same stuff we use."
Running back Robert Kelley has also impressed, totaling a team-high 99 rush yards on 22 carries this preaseason. He and second-year man Mack Brown will be the only two running backs with the team tomorrow.
"I don't know how much playing time I'll be getting," Kelley said. "Unfortunately we're down to two backs so whatever coach decides for us to play, that's what we've got to play. My goal is to go out there and finish strong."