Tampa Bay DE Simeon Rice vs. Washington T Chris Samuels and TE Walter Rasby
Rice is one of the dominant pass rushers in the game and will quickly test the offensive line's ability to protect quarterback Mark Brunell. Coach Joe Gibbs prizes protecting the passer above all else and Rice can come off the line with speed and force. He mustered four sacks in the Buccaneers' win at FedEx Field last season, and recorded 15 sacks for the season, and expects to see plenty of double teams this time around. Rasby was brought in primarily for his size and blocking prowess and he will see a heavy dose of Rice when possible, although Tampa Bay Coach Jon Gruden could try to get Rice on the weak side, away from the Redskins tight end as well. Regardless, it will take a collective effort to thwart Tampa Bay's defensive line, and look for rookie H-back Chris Cooley to get a difficult indoctrination when the Buccaneers get into the backfield.
Washington WR Laveranues Coles vs. Tampa Bay CB Ronde Barber
Gibbs will no doubt look to stretch Tampa Bay and loves to whack opposing defenses with the deep pass early. Coles is a serious threat with his speed and is facing one of the best corners in the NFL. This will also be a big test for Coles, who will battle a nagging toe injury this season and did not play much in the preseason. If Barber can stymie Coles, much pressure will fall to the rest of the Redskins' receiving corps. Number two target Rod Gardner is coming off a subpar season. None of the receivers has much history with Brunell and expecting any of them to have a big performance in his first game with him might be a stretch.