Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' preseason Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that took place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
1. Nate Sudfeld puts together a solid final preseason showing.With Trent Williams and Colt McCoy taking the majority of practice and preseason reps over the last few months, Sudfeld finally got his chance to see extended action on the field for the Redskins and he did not disappoint.
Exactly one year after his last start, Sudfeld completed 22-of-33 passes for 278 yards along with two carries for four yards in a 13-10 victory over the Buccaneers.
"I thought it was a pretty solid night, pretty efficient for the most part in terms of moving the ball," Sudfeld said. "But disappointed that we weren't able to get more points, for whatever reason we were kind of getting bogged down at the end of drives, but we were moving the ball which is good. But again, we need to finish. So it was a solid night overall but a lot to improve on."
Not only was Sudfeld able to get the Redskins moving, the second-year Indiana product completed passes to 11 different players, four of which recorded at least 30 receiving yards.
It was important for Sudfeld to have a good final outing with the roster being sized down to 53 players on Saturday afternoon. With Sudfeld serving as the No. 3 quarterback last year, he was inactive for all 16 games. So he understands that he doesn't have a ton of job security.
"They're never easy," Sudfeld said of roster cut deadlines. "You know, whether you make the squad or not, like last year I made the squad and so many of my good buddies didn't, so it's tough regardless. So I'm going to be there, probably hanging out with some of my buddies, my brother will be in town, so we'll hang out [and] maybe go golfing or something, probably try to get my mind off it, but I'll see what happens."
2. Mack Brown confident he made an impression.
With the Redskins' top three running backs consider locks for the 53-man roster, Brown was one of many players on Thursday night putting the finishing touches on what they hope is enough positive tape to get active status.
In total, Brown carried the ball 18 times for a game-high 69 yards.
"One game [doesn't] determine my fate," Brown said. "I've been going hard ever since Day 1 at camp. Whatever happens, happens. I'll leave my hand in God's hands. I'm encouraged, I'm not discouraged. I'm thankful."
Brown was a numbers game cut last year for the first 53-man roster, but the University of Florida product eventually got his number called again in Week 8 last year. While he was just a special teams contributor for most of the season, he did record a 61-yard touchdown against the Chicago Bears in a Week 16 victory.
Even if it isn't in Washington, Brown believes he'll be on an NFL roster once again this season.
"I will be playing football somewhere this year," Brown said. "I know that for a fact because God told me last night. So, whatever happens, happens. …Like I said before, I will always be a Redskin no matter what gives. Not having a college career, being fourth-string in my senior year, they gave me a chance that nobody else did, so I'm thankful and I'll always love the Redskins. I feel like the Redskins will win the Super Bowl this year."
3. In a crowded wide receivers room, Matt Hazel saved his biggest game for last.
Just as is the case at so many other positions for the Redskins this year, the wide receivers group is loaded with talent.
Terrelle Pryor Sr., Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder are all expected to get their targets and Ryan Grant remains someone the coaching staff is high on. Beyond those four, though, the Redskins have eight other players on the 90-man roster trying to make the active squad.
Among them is Matt Hazel, a player who spent the majority of last season on the practice squad. During Thursday night's game, Hazel was the most productive wide receiver for both teams catching all four of his targets for a game-high 60 yards.
"I felt like I was so locked in," Hazel said. "I didn't really keep count. Nate did a great job, we've been talking the whole week, we were trying to connect. Then I didn't really get too many opportunities with him in the first couple games and not really too much on practice. But, we hooked up and I think that was just good communication throughout the week, understanding what we see, we did a good job watching film, breaking these guys down and made some plays."
Hazel's best catch of the night came on a 23-yard reception in which he dragged both feet to secure the ball inbounds.
"That was an incredible catch," Sudfeld said. "I just tried to get my back shoulder, throw it where they ain't, as we say, throw it where they're not. So he made a great catch on it and I would like to see some of those on film, I haven't really seen them."
4. Josh Harvey-Clemons comes through with the top defensive play of the night.
In a game were neither offense could get into the end zone through the first three quarters, Harvey-Clemons finally logged the night's first touchdown on a 41-yard pick-six.
Tampa Bay quarterback Sifo Liufau tried to roll out on a play action pass and complete a pass to one of his wide receivers, but the rookie linebacker took advantage of a an overthrown pass – coupled with solid downfield blocking by the defense – to score.
"It's something we work on with the linebackers all the time," Harvey-Clemons said. "Once you feel the flow of the running back and it's a play action, turn and find the crossing receiver and I got up under him and the quarterback, I don't know if he saw me or not, but he threw it right to me and I had great blockers on the play."
Harvey-Clemons felt putting the turnover on tape was important as he missed on other plays earlier in the game.
"I missed a couple of sacks at the beginning and I was kind of down about that but it's part of the game," Harvey-Clemons said. "You just have to keep playing the next play and our defense played great and we held up tonight, and that's all you can ask for."
5. The Redskins have less than 48 hours before the initial 53-man roster is set.
With the conclusion of Thursday night's game, the Redskins are one step closer to the regular season.
But before they practice once again, nearly half of the team will either be released or waived. It is a tough reality in the NFL, but one players aren't unfamiliar with.
Still it makes the next few days very difficult.
"I've built a lot of relationships," Brown said. "Like I said before, I'm thankful, and we're always going to be friends. The guys that became friends, we're going to be friends after this. I'm just thankful to be on the field with you guys for the last time."
For Hazel, meanwhile, he said the wide receivers have never viewed it as a competition.
"We just support each other when they make plays," Hazel said. "Brian Quick, James Quick made plays today. [Jamari] Staples even got out there and made a couple plays. So, you just cheer your teammates on and really try to show some leadership. Really, that's it. I don't ever really look at it like competition, nothing like that."
Head coach Jay Gruden said the team will be ready to assemble the best 53-man roster possible.
"We have a full staff that's on board with that they've been watching," Gruden said of Saturday's cutdown process. "From training camp on, they have been studying other teams. We are not just going to wait for the waiver wire and look at it and say, 'Oh my gosh, these guys prepared?' They are anticipating what is going to happen around the league and there will be a few surprises, obviously, buy for the most part they are prepared and ready."