Five questions Redskins beat writer Brian McNally has heading into Washington's Thursday night preseason game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
1. What, exactly, is the value of the fourth and final preseason game?
For veterans who are locks to make the team, very little. That's why so many are sitting out — from Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris to Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher. For bubble players like wide receivers Lance Lewis or Dezmon Briscoe, it means everything. Maybe the coaching staff has already made up its mind, but as long as there's a game, there's a chance.
2. Who will return punts against Tampa Bay?
With Richard Crawford out for the season, the Redskins need to find a solution here. Chris Thompson looked comfortable filling in on Saturday against the Bills. Mike Shanahan mentioned veterans DeAngelo Hall and Santana Moss this week, but neither will play. Josh Morgan will, however, and his name came up. But Shanahan was clear he will go with a new option in the season opener if necessary.
3. Evan Royster or Keiland Williams?
Maybe this is a false choice. The Redskins could opt to keep both players. But with Morris the starter and Roy Helu the backup, spots are running low at running back and Royster has been bothered by a left ankle injury. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did say he has "a pretty good feel" for Royster even if he is limited again Thursday.
4. What should the Redskins expect from Brandon Meriweather?
A lot of rust. Meriweather suffered a torn ACL in his right knee last Nov. 18. He's practiced enough, but Shanahan needs to see him in a game situation. The team hopes the strong safety can play at least a half and show he's ready to go against the Eagles on Sept. 9.
5. Who is the fullback with Darrel Young sitting out the preseason finale?
The Redskins will go with tight end Niles Paul in that role. Young is the only fullback on the roster so if he goes down the team needs to identify an in-house replacement. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Paul fits the bill. He is one of four tight ends expected to make the final roster.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.