- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

ASHBURN | Looming behind the Washington Redskins’ travel plans to Tampa Bay for their final preseason game was Tropical Depression Nine. As a yet-to-be named weather squall, its impact seemed moderate. That changed Monday night and into Tuesday evening.

Late Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that the game would be moved from Thursday evening to Wednesday at 8 p.m. to avoid the impact expected from Tropical Depression Nine. Tuesday, the national weather service announced that the severe weather was expected to develop into a tropical storm by day’s end. That means heavy rain, high winds, possible coastal flooding and even an isolated tornado chance.

“We have been in regular communication with administrators from the Tampa Sports Authority, Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa and the National Weather Service over the past day as it has become apparent that the most severe weather associated with Tropical Depression Nine will likely make landfall on Thursday,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford in a statement. “This decision was made by both teams in conjunction with the National Football League and local authorities in an effort to ensure the safety of our fans, players and stadium staff.”

The Redskins’ official Twitter account tweeted that the organization supports the decision. The team also said that Wednesday’s “Welcome home luncheon” will gone as scheduled in the morning. Many of the Redskins’ starters are expected to stay in the Washington area and not travel to the game, which is always used as a long look at rookies and others trying to make the back end of a roster.

The game will still air locally in the Washington, D.C. market on Comcast SportsNet and on NBC4. Outside of the Redskins Broadcast Network and affiliated stations, the game will be available nationally on NFL Network.

Overall, not much changes in the Redskins’ preparation.

“We just had to speed it up a little bit,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “We didn’t plan on doing a lot of Tampa early in the week anyway, but we’re going to try to do something today and tomorrow. We just have to speed up our preparation a little bit.”

Rookie Nate Sudfeld is expected to be the starting quarterback against Tampa Bay and is likely to play the entire game. Sudfeld has had an uneven preseason. His first game against the Atlanta Falcons he was 10-for-15 for 89 yards and a touchdown. In his second game, he was 10-for-20. Wednesday will be an extended chance for him to play.

“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. Matt Cavanaugh has done a great job with him, and he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s miles-and-miles away, but he’s making great strides and he’s great as far as wanting to learn and wanting to do the right thing. It’s just hard to get him the reps that he needs, but he’s taking advantage of the ones that he gets and he’ll get a great opportunity [Wednesday].”

First-round pick Doctson eager to return

One of the dangers of social media is making pronouncements that may not be in line with reality.

Redskins rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson tweeted, “Sorry for the wait … but it’s finally go time!” on Monday afternoon. Doctson has been held out of preseason practice and games because of Achilles tendinitis. When informed of Doctson’s declaration, Gruden had a specific place for the first-round pick to go.

“Let’s ‘go’ back to the training room for him,” Gruden said. “No, he’s close. He’s getting a little antsy. I threw to him again today and he looks better. I don’t think he’s got his full full-speed burst yet but he’s very, very close. He’s a very smooth route-runner. He’s coming in and out of his breaks, snatching everything. So, he’s very, very close. I think we can start him practicing very soon.”

Gruden said earlier in the week that Doctson would not play in the final preseason game, but could be ready for the team’s Sept. 12 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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