Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman looks at four key players to keep an eye on during Wednesday night's Redskins-Buccaneers game at FedExField.
"Redskins-Bucs: 4 Players to Watch" is presented by Papa John's, Official Pizza of the Washington Redskins.
Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99. Plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.
With most of last game's starters expected to sit out tonight, its the final chance for the Redskins reserves to shine and make the team. Head coach Mike Shanahan said there are typically five to six guys competing for 53rd spot on the roster, which leads to inspired performance in the fourth and final preseason game.
One of the familiar Redskins battling for a roster spot tonight is veteran receiver Anthony Armstrong. Armstrong was the product of bad luck at the end of training camp, injuring his shoulder on a leaping sideline grab. Armstrong was relegated to non-contact drills for much of the last two weeks, but has been practicing fully and is said to be ready to go.
Armstrong brings decent size and elite speed to the field, which aids him as a deep threat and on special teams. Despite his limited opportunities so far, Amstrong remains an asset in those capacities, and could make the team with a strong performance tonight.
With Darrel Young eying a Week 1 return and No. 2 fullback Chris Cooley released yesterday, unheralded reserve Dorson Boyce could get the start tonight at lead blocker.
Boyce was signed shortly before training camp opened, and has impressed with his ability to pick up the playbook on the fly. Coaches have tested him this preseason, giving him opportunities in the blocking game, as well as in the passing game out of the backfield.
Last season, the Redskins kept Young and Mike Sellers, setting a precedent for two fullbacks that can play special teams. With Young's hamstring on the mend, Boyce showed the coaching staff enough to survive the first roster cuts. Tonight could be his best last chance to make the team.
After turning in a stellar performance against the Buffalo Bills, Crawford has been largely a non-factor in the last two games. He showed that he can be a viable threat in pass defense (one interception), pass rush (two QB pressures), and in the punt return game.
Crawford's situation was improved this week with the trade of Kevin Barnes to the Detroit Lions. Barnes was more of a corner than nickel back, but the logjam in the secondary improved. Crawford must still out-perform veterans like Brandyn Thompson, Travon Bellamy and David Jones, but he should be given that opportunity tonight.
Like most young players, Crawford will need to show that he can be a consistent force on defense and special teams. He may be competing against the likes of Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin and Armstrong for a spot on the 53.
On Monday afternoon, head coach Mike Shanahan explained to the media that kicker Graham Gano won the statistical battle between he and Neil Rackers. By Tuesday morning, both kickers were out in favor of NFL veteran Billy Cundiff, who had recently been let go by the Baltimore Ravens.
Cundiff was involved in another kicking battle 40 miles up I-95, one which he lost to rookie Justin Tucker. After his infamous missed field goal to lose the AFC Championship in January, Cundiff likely needs a change of scenery for the 2012 season.
With both Gano and Rackers gone, Cundiff has been handed the starting job in Washington. The pressure will be on him to synchronize with the rest of the kicking unit, especially long snapper Nick Sundberg and holder Sav Rocca.
All three players assured the media yesterday that this would not be a problem, but tonight should provide the first real test.