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With Cuts Due, Players Make Bid to Stay

For players like Jonathan Combs, Aki Jones, Jerome Nichols and Steven Harris, Friday night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers may have been the last opportunity to impress Redskins coaches.

All NFL teams must pare their roster to 65 players on NFL teams by Tuesday, Aug. 30. Players who participated in NFL Europe last spring will have a roster exemption.

Head coach Joe Gibbs said Friday's game was crucial for a number of young players hoping to embark on a NFL career.

"Individually, there's always a chance for a player to make an impression on the coaches," Gibbs said. "We've gone through a lot of analysis on what we think the final roster will be, and what the decision process will be. So you're constantly looking at that."

Gibbs said he expects to discuss potential roster cuts with coaches on Sunday afternoon.

Against Pittsburgh, most of the players on the second and third units had limited opportunities to shine. Gibbs and the coaching staff wanted to get an extended look at the first team on both sides of the ball. With the exception of Clinton Portis, the Redskins' starters played almost the entire first-half.

The Redskins won the game 17-10 at FedExField.

Some unheralded players who stepped up against the Steelers and may have done enough to stick around for at least another week of preseason evaluation:

Strong safety Pierson Prioleau was probably going to make the 53-man squad anyway, but he solidified a spot on the roster with his showing against Pittsburgh.

Playing safety, Prioleau, a free agent pickup who previously played for the Buffalo Bills, had an interception on the last play of the first half and then batted away a pass for an incompletion on the last play of the game.

Prioleau finished the game with three tackles and two passes defended.

Rookie running back Nehemiah Broughton, the Redskins' seventh-round draft pick last April, continues to impress. He ran hard against Pittsburgh, rushing for 46 yards on 12 carries.

Perhaps more noteworthy, Broughton had a tackle on special teams. If he can produce on punt and kickoff coverage, he will have an excellent chance of making the 53-man roster.

It was believed that Broughton was battling four-year veteran Rock Cartwright for a roster spot, but both have played solid this preseason--and both could find themselves on the roster come opening day.

Defensive end Nic Clemons, who has spent the last two seasons on the Redskins' practice squad, tripped up Steelers' running back Verron Haynes in the third quarter. Clemons closed the hole fast so that Haynes couldn't break loose for a big gain.

Overall, the 6-6, 298-pounder had two tackles in the game.

Defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti played in his first regular season NFL game against Pittsburgh in November 2004. He's back, locked in a battle with Cedric Killings for the fourth lineman in Gregg Williams' defensive tackle rotation.

Boschetti made a key stop on 3rd-and-10 early in the fourth quarter when he tackled running back Noah Herron on a pass.

Overall, the offensive line played solid against a tough Pittsburgh defense, not yielding a sack all game. One lineman on the bubble, guard Josh Warner, had two key blocks in the second half that kept the quarterback from getting sacked.

Warner, a 6-5, 318-pound offensive lineman, has had little publicity this preseason--and remains a long shot to make the squad--but he may have opened some eyes on Friday night.

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