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Posted at 11:07 AM ET, 09/01/2011

Buccaneers at Redskins: Keys to the game

This Redskins preseason, with the exception of a key injury, has been very impressive. The strong performances from John Beck and Rex Grossman have made me lose some interest in that battle because they have both played well. So the stakes won’t be high at QB again until regular season starts.


Returner Brandon Banks appears to be on the bubble. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)
So what does tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Bucs mean? It’s bubble guys’ time tonight.

It would appear the starters are in place so they should see little to no playing time, but fringe players who are trying to make this team will need to perform if they do not want that pink slip after this game.

The Bucs are a vastly improving team and should be very competitive this season, but that doesn’t really matter in tonight’s game. However, the Redskins reserves need to show that there is very little to no drop-off from the starters on down. Depth will be very important for this team, they have already lost Jarvis Jenkins to a knee injury and we have no idea what the timeline is with Laron Landry, so depth is important.

So with health and depth being the most important components of tonight’s game, here’s what I will be looking for:

Offense

●How much will John Beck and Rex Grossman play tonight? Will Kellen Clemens get the bulk of the game? If Clemens does, I think it’s more about watching everything and everyone else and how they perform.

●Leonard Hankerson bounced back last week against the Ravens. Can he continue to improve? He should play a whole lot tonight giving him an opportunity to get into the flow of the game much earlier than previous games.

●Can Terence Austin finish out the preseason with another strong performance? He has done enough to make this team. The question still remains: What does that mean for the rest of this roster at that position?

●It would appear that no matter what ●Evan Royster does tonight he will be a victim of the numbers game. So I will be looking to see how much they use him, as I am sure the team is thinking practice squad for him and may not want to showcase his talents too much because he would have to clear waivers to be signed.

●Other positions to watch: Of course the offensive line. How will the backups respond tonight? This position still promises to be the most scrutinized outside of QB, which means it would be a big bonus if the reserves show well tonight.

Defense

I will be watching to see how long they play their starters, more specifically Ryan Kerrigan and O.J. Atogwe.

●With Kerrigan I’m wondering if they’ve worked him enough to feel confident about starting him in a regular season game. He’s done well in the preseason but I would still be leery that he might not be prepared enough for regular season play.

●Atogwe is coming back from a minnor injury but has not played much this preseason. I wonder, for the sake of getting his playing legs and wind up a bit more, if they will leave him in there for awhile.

●What will the reserve front eight look like? On defense generally the rotation is so active that this shouldn’t matter much. The same faces will be steady during the course of the entire game during the regular season. Starters like Cofield and Bowen will be in and out tonight but I fully expect the rest of the group to play the entire game. I look to see how well the kid out of Sam Huff’s alma mater, West Virginia, does tonight as his work load will be heavy at nose guard.

●Rocky McIntosh seems to have held off Perry Riley for now, so I’m interested to see how the young man handles himself in tonight’s game knowing that he won’t be starting, at least not right now. This will most likely end H.B. Blades’s time here as a Redskin. But, hey, in this business you never know.

●In the secondary Kevin Barnes has made big plays in the pass rush game. So far he has shown that he deserves consideration to be a starter at corner. Can this young man solidify that claim tonight?

Special teams

This is an important week for Brandon Banks and Mike Sellars. Both appear to be on the bubble. For Banks it’s health concerns that could decide his fate. Both must prove tonight that their importance on special teams is worth keeping them on the roster. So that could mean great entertainment for us as I’ve seen how a motivated Sellars runs down the field in coverage.

Leave your comments here and chat with me on Twitter @lavararrington

By LeVar Arrington  |  11:07 AM ET, 09/01/2011

 
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