TAMPA — A preseason finale played with a tropical storm in the vicinity was as sloppy as one would expect. The Washington Redskins’ 20-13 win over Tampa Bay was one for the backups to make a final case why they deserve one of the final roster spots, but the dreadful conditions made it difficult.
It rained nearly non-stop, though the game — moved up a day in an effort to avoid Tropical Storm Hermine — was completed without any weather delays. It was also completed with virtually no starters stepping on the field from either team. Washington traveled with just 49 players, as just about all of its starters stayed in the D.C. area.
“It was wet, but I think our guys were really into the game,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said. “They were really competing, and they know what’s at stake. They showed what they’re all about. It’s not easy for them competing, but they all came out.”
The hundreds of fans soaking at Raymond James Stadium saw a punting contest. The teams combined for 15 of them, going 5 for 28 on third downs. The passing game was nonexistent. Nate Sudfeld played the entire game but couldn’t establish a rhythm.
Bucs quarterbacks Mike Glennon (Westfield High) and Ryan Griffin weren’t any better as the ball slipped out of Glennon’s hands while he was throwing on two occasions in the first half.
Sudfeld finished 8 of 18 for 72 yards. His best throw was a 13-yard fade pass to wide receiver Rashad Ross in the third quarter for his only touchdown . Ross had a shaky outing until the touchdown catch. He finished with two receptions for 16 yards . He was second on the team in receiving yards behind T.J. Thorpe, who had 46 yards on two catches .
Despite the sloppy conditions, a few Redskins shined — most notably running backs Robert Kelley and Mack Brown. The duo accounted for 248 of the offense’s 301 yards. Brown, who is hoping to snag a roster spot as a fourth running back, rushed for 149 yards on 19 carries . He scored the game’s first touchdown on a 60-yard run in the second quarter, weaving through the Bucs’ defense before handing the ball to his father in the crowd.
“I was happy to see Mack,” Gruden said. “I think he did show up and made the decision even tougher. Hopefully we can figure out a way to keep all of them, but we’ll get together with the scouting staff and coaching staff and figure it out.”
Kelley gained 99 yards on 16 carries to cap an impressive preseason. The undrafted rookie out of Tulane worked his way to becoming the Redskins’ third running back.
Washington’s defense held Tampa Bay to 213 total yards, and an average of 3.2 yards per play. It maintained the aggressiveness it displayed in the preseason even without its starters.
Safeties Duke Ihenacho and Deshazor Everett both had good outings and teamed up to force the Redskins’ only turnover in the second quarter. Everett broke up a pass over the middle intended for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The ball hung in the air long enough for Ihenacho to make a diving interception. Washington’s offense was able to convert a field goal with the short field to extend the lead to 13-0.
Along with the interception, Ihenacho finished with two tackles and a forced fumble. Everett, who was on the roster last year but could be squeezed out unless the team keeps five safeties, had a team-high eight tackles.
“We do have a lot of guys in this locker room that we’re going to let go that can play,” Gruden said. “Hopefully, we’ll figure out ways to get them back here. We have 10 practice squad spots too, but we’ll have to wait and see. There’s a lot of decisions.”
Everett’s breakup was one of seven passes defended by Washington. Defensive end Anthony Lanier nearly dropped a sure interception on a third-and-long play.
Lanier is fighting for one of the final roster spots on the defensive line along with Cullen Jenkins, a 13-year veteran who signed with the team this week. In his Redskins debut, Jenkins recorded the team’s only sack and finished with three tackles.
“Cullen showed up,” Gruden said. “I saw him really getting in the backfield in some of the runs and then obviously got a sack.”
The Redskins will have some tough decisions to make following this game. Their roster currently stands at 75 players, but they must make 22 cuts by Saturday at 4 p.m. to finalize their 53-man roster. With their final preseason game moved up a day, the Redskins’ front office and coaching staff will get an extra day to assess and debate these decisions before the deadline.
“We have a little bit more time to evaluate and talk,” Gruden said. “We can start meeting as soon as [Thursday]. Players come in, the guys that didn’t make the trip will be able to get a good workout in, the other guys will be able to get a recovery day and us as a staff can get together and talk about each position and take a little bit longer time to really go over it.”