As preseason games go, today's 7 p.m. meeting between the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tampa Stadium could be a spicy little affair.

Although antagonists Doug Williams, the Redskins quarterback, and Scot Brantley, the Buccaneers linebacker, are not expected to play, those who do -- starters and reserves -- say they are more serious about this game than they were about the two previous preseason games.

"This third game will be our biggest test," said Tampa Bay quarterback Steve DeBerg, who is expected to start in front of top draft choice Vinny Testaverde. "By far this is the best team we will play in preseason."

And this from the Redskins camp: "We're going to see a real good quarterback {Testaverde} and a good team at their place, with their crowd," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "The heat and everything else will be good for us. It will be a good workout for us. They're playing good. They're excited."

Most of the pregame excitement was generated by Williams' request not to play against his old team, a request Gibbs said he would grant. Brantley said Williams was "still acting childish, I guess." Williams, a controversial figure in Tampa Bay, called Brantley a "redneck" and vowed to "tell him that Saturday night myself."

Brantley, a starting inside linebacker, is not expected to play because of back spasms. If he and Williams meet in pregame drills or after the game, it might be worth watching.

In matters that will mean more for the teams' futures, this is a coming out party of sorts for Washington running back George Rogers, who said he will play after missing the first two preseason games with a sprained left big toe.

In fact, this will be the first time Rogers and running mate Kelvin Bryant will be healthy and running in the same game this preseason. Bryant had a strained right quadriceps and missed much of the first game and all of the second.

"I think I'll start," Rogers said. "Natural grass makes it a lot easier on my toe. I'm looking forward to this, let me tell you. I think I have some things to prove. Last year, people were asking if I could run outside, so I have something to prove in that respect. I think I've proven I'm durable, that I can play with injuries, but I'll have to show that again."

Rogers said his toe, injured Aug. 4 in practice, still is sore. "The more I run on it, the more it hurts," he said. "It still hurts to cut, but I'm running full speed, though."

In Rogers' absence, rookie Timmy Smith has stolen some headlines and, most likely, won a roster spot. Rogers said he is eager to get back, to run behind the Redskins' new and supposedly improved offensive line.

"I used to be the leading rusher on this team," he said, smiling broadly. "More than anything, I want to see how good our offensive line is. I'm going to check them out. If they can't make a hole, I'm going to plow them in the back."

The Redskins are taking this game more seriously than your average August game because of last week's lopsided, 33-0 win. The Green Bay Packers, humble opponents that they were, didn't allow the Redskins to get a good look at themselves. For that reason, Gibbs plans to play his starters a bit longer than the past two weeks. But he also wants to give his rookies and free agents, especially those on the edge for Tuesday's cutdown to 60 players, a good look.

One Redskin is in a most interesting position. Barry Wilburn will start at left cornerback (Darrell Green is moving to right cornerback for this game) in a rotation established by the coaches. But Wilburn has been less than impressive in the first two games and is in jeopardy of losing his job unless he does much better tonight. The leading contender for the starting job opposite Green is Tim Morrison.

Wilburn remains undaunted. "I think I can do the job," he said. "All it takes is just for me to go out and just do it and show everybody. I don't have to show myself. I have to show {reporters} and the coaches and everybody else.

Testaverde, the Heisman Trophy winner from Miami, is expected to play in the second and third quarters, as he did last week in the Buccaneers' 29-27 win over the New York Jets.

"I like playing him," said Wilburn. "He likes to throw and I'd like for him to throw my way."

Testaverde has completed 24 of 45 passes for 316 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. DeBerg has completed 17 of 25 for 172 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Coach Ray Perkins has said DeBerg probably will be his starter for the regular-season opener.

Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder, who threw only eight passes against the Packers last week, is likely to play into the second half, to get as much work as possible. Second-year man Mark Rypien will replace him.

The Redskins still are hurting, with six players out of this game: defensive end Dexter Manley (knee), middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz (knee), tight end Terry Orr (shoulder), tight end Alfred Jenkins (hip flexor), strong safety Ken Coffey (hip flexor) and cornerback Johnny Thomas (ankle). Rookie offensive tackle Ed Simmons has a sore left knee but probably will be ready for the game, said head trainer Bubba Tyer. Linebacker Anthony Copeland, who had a sprained knee, is expected to return to action, as is middle linebacker Kurt Gouveia, who will play with a ball-shaped cast on his broken right hand.

A crowd of about 60,000 is expected at Tampa Stadium.

Miller, Falcons Meet

Associated Press

SUWANEE, Ga., Aug. 28 -- The agent for No. 1 draft pick Chris Miller met today with Atlanta Falcons management in an attempt to end the Oregon quarterback's holdout.

Miller, who returned to Atlanta Thursday night, was not involved in the negotiations with agent Mike Blatt, said Charlie Taylor, a team spokesman.

The negotiations were being held in an undisclosed location "where there's no pressure and no explanations until they're finished," said chief financial officer Jim Hay.

Miller said he was optimistic that an agreement would be worked out today. He reportedly is asking for a $2.25 million contract for four years, while the Falcons are offering $1.6 million plus incentives.