Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Wednesday's Redskins-Buccaneers Preseason Week 4 showdown at Raymond James Stadium.
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ADJUST TO THE CONDITIONS
With the Tampa region expected to be hit with heavy downpours Thursday evening from Tropical Depression Nine, the Redskins and Buccaneers agreed to move up their preseason finale to Wednesday night to avoid the brunt of the elements.
While it's only a 24 hour difference between the game's original scheduling and the new time of 8 p.m. Wednesday evening, the Redskins players that are expected to play in the game need to make sure they're properly prepared for 60 minutes of football.
"I mean it's not ideal to do a game a little bit early just because it kind of messes with your process of what you study each day, but I've really diligent throughout the week of getting ready for this game, so I feel very prepared," rookie quarterback Nate Sudfeld said. " The funny thing is I told my quarterback coach on Sunday, I was like, 'I feel like I could play them tomorrow,' about Monday, kind of not thinking anything of it, so hopefully it holds true and we play pretty well. I feel very prepared."
Along with Sudfeld – who will start at quarterback (more on that later) – fellow rookie draft picks Su'a Cravens and Jonathan Allen expect to play quite a bit, too.
"I think last game prepared me a lot," said Fuller, who clinched a Redskins victory last Friday with a game-ending interception. "Last game, I think I had a lot of snaps so I think that will definitely prepare me and just staying mentally strong."
Cravens, meanwhile, wants to do his best Will Compton "impersonation" and be a leader for the defensive unit.
"We've got to be better," Cravens said. "We've got to be prepared and come in mentally ready to play Tampa Bay."
GRAB A SPOT ON THE ROSTER
Even though a majority of the starters aren't expected to make the trip to Tampa and back on Wednesday, the Redskins still have some decisions to make as to who will complete the 53-man active roster.
At positions such as guard, inside linebacker and outside linebacker, the Redskins have unfinished business in determining who makes Saturday's cuts.
"I think realistically about probably about eight or nine maybe," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden responded when asked how many roster spots remain open. "But you can never tell. We will see how we come out of this game health-wise, number one, and somebody might shine who we didn't expect to and somebody might do the opposite who we didn't expect to. We like to let the game on the field speak for the player and we will see how they do and we will make our decision. We try not to go in with any decisions that are already pre-made, we just try to let the guys play and then we'll make decisions afterwards."
Performance on special teams will be a major factor in final decisions.
"I think that's one thing we're really going to keep a close eye on – the special teams, the flyers, the guys who are blocking on punt return and kickoff cover, kickoff return, who's being the most effective," Gruden said. "So we'll keep an eye on those battles as well."
SHOW 'EM WHAT YOU GOT, NATE
Barring an unforeseen situation, Nate Sudfeld will go the distance against the Buccaneers after not playing last Friday against the Bills.
With the 187th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected quarterback Nate Sudfeld of Indiana. Take a look at his collegiate career in photos.
It will mark his first start since Dec. 26, 2015, when he led Indiana against Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Yes, Sudfeld isn't expected to play much if any during his rookie season, but this is an elongated opportunity to show the coaching staff that he's improved enough over the last few months to earn a roster spot.
"He's progressed extremely well and it's just a long way to go," Gruden said. "These kids out of college, no matter which position you play, there's always a lot of learning to do in the National Football League. Especially at the quarterback position, where you're talking about formations, you're talking about snap count, you're talking about concepts, you're talking about runs, your footwork, all that stuff that just takes a long time. He's picked it up very well."
So far in the preseason, Sudfeld has completed 20-of-35 attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns to no interceptions.
Even in potential sloppy conditions not ideal for throwing the ball, Sudfeld's goal is to play effectively and keep the ball in Washington's possession.
"I really just want to play very clean football, have no turnovers and be very good in the huddle, in and out of the huddle clean operation, call the plays correctly, be very smooth and polished," Sudfeld said. "I want to show the progression I've made. I'm not trying to go out there to make the biggest plays or anything like that, I just want to play good, solid football."
COMPLETE THE GAME HEALTHY THEN SET YOUR SIGHTS ON PITTSBURGHOnce the final whistle blows, win or lose, the 2016 preseason slate will officially be in the Redskins' past. Next up, the Pittsburgh Steelers to start the games that matter in the win-lose column.
The Redskins host the Steelers on Sept. 12 in a Monday Night Football tilt at FedExField. The atmosphere is expected to be electric as both teams hope to get off on the right foot.
But the Steelers will be no easy out, as they've made the playoffs six times in nine seasons under head coach Mike Tomlin.
Then, of course, there's the elite tandem of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown along with a rebuilt defensive unit.
"We have started our preparation for Pittsburgh," Gruden said. "We started meeting on that this past week. There is no question that we have previewed the Pittsburgh Steelers."