- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Washington Redskins have already began preparing for their regular-season opener on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 12. Before they can fully turn their attention to the regular season, though, they’ll play their final preseason game on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Most of the starters are expected to remain in Washington for the team’s Welcome Home Luncheon, while those fighting for a roster spot will get one last chance to make their case to the coaching staff.

Jay Gruden said he figures there are “eight or nine” roster spots available, 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,” Gruden said. “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.”

The roster needs to be finalized to 53 players on Saturday by 4 p.m.

With that, here are some logistics and three things to watch in Wednesday’s game.

Kickoff: 8 p.m.

Preseason records: Redskins 2-1, Buccaneers 2-1

Television: CSN (Kenny Albert, play-by-play; Joe Theisman, color; Clinton Portis, sidelines)

Radio: ESPN 980 (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen, Chris Cooley, Doc Walker)

Weather: 78 degrees, rain

Lines: Buccaneers -3, over/under 38 per Bovada

Stats:

All-time record: The Redskins are 10-10 against the Buccaneers and 9-5 in the preseason.

Last regular-season meeting: Oct. 25, 2015: 31-30 win at FedEx Field.

Three things to watch:

** The top five, in no particular order, on the defensive line is set with Chris Baker, Kendall Reyes, Kedric Golston, Ziggy Hood and Ricky Jean Francois. Depending if the Redskins prefer to keep six or seven defensive linemen, there will be one or two spots up for grabs. Washington signed veteran defensive end Cullen Jenkins on Monday and cut Stephen Paea. The last spot, if available, likely will come down to rookies Anthony Lanier and Matt Ioannidis. Lanier, an undrafted rookie from Alabama A&M, played 36 snaps last week against the Bills, the most of any defensive linemen. The Redskins are certainly giving him a good look.

** When the game got moved to Wednesday because of a tropical depression, running back Mack Brown said he thought it was a joke at first. It’s serious and so will Brown’s workload be. Presuming the Redskins don’t bring in a veteran running back, undrafted rookie Robert Kelley is in position for the third running back spot and will look to continue his strong preseason. Brown figures to get more of the snaps on Wednesday. It’s not likely the Redskins keep four running backs, which means Brown would likely wind up on the practice squad for a consecutive season. Wednesday’s game will still be a big opportunity for the former Florida product, who has ran hard during the preseason.

** Will the Redskins keep four tight ends? Veteran Logan Paulsen is on the bubble and whether he makes the team depends on how many they keep. Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Niles Paul are entrenched on the depth chart ahead of him. Yet at this time of year, there’s a premium put on strong special teams play and Paulsen certainly excels there. If the Redskins keep one less offensive or defensive linemen, there could be room for Paulsen, whose primary role has been as a run blocker as he enters his seventh season with the Redskins.


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