Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Thursday's Redskins-Bucs preseason showdown at FedExField .
“Redskins-Bucs: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.
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PLAY LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW
The fourth preseason game is a tragically misunderstood game, thought to be a meaningless matchup between a team's third- and fourth-string starters. While likely true, this only tells half the story.
Ever fourth preseason game around the NFL features dozens of players holding on to the last chance of fulfilling childhood NFL dreams. It's an impassioned contest between players directly or indirectly competing for the 53rd spot on the roster or practice squad.
If anything, the fourth preseason game encompasses all of the ideals fans value most in football, because it is a championship game and swan song for many of the players that take the field.
On Saturday evening, more than 700 NFL players will be cut loose, but in the meantime, those players have a chance to swap their name with another's on the chopping block. This is the best chance for players buried on the depth chart to shine, and it is a last chance for most.
Even if players don't make the roster on the team they suit up for in Game 4, they have an opportunity to impress the dozens of scouts in attendance at each game. The extra hustle just may be the difference between continuing on in the NFL or pursuing a new line of work.
You may not know the heroes of tomorrow's contest, but there's a good chance you'll see some inspired play.
WHITE [EARNS HIS] STRIPES
The Redskins found talent in unusual places this offseason, plucking a one-time NFL prospect out of retirement for an NFL system ideally suited to his mobile talents.
The likely beneficiary of
White numbers through three games may not light up the scorecard, but his efficiency and ability to make the plays that count put him head and shoulders above the average fourth-string quarterback.
Having taken advantage of every opportunity so far, White will get a long look on Thursday night. He is scheduled for all 60 minutes of football (barring injury) and will look to state his case for a job on an NFL roster--either in Washington or somewhere else.
ROOKIE RUNNING BACKS NEED TO SHINE
The answer of who plays second fiddle to
The depth chart behind him, however, is hazy.
The X-factors in this competition are the rookies, whom have had a combined stat line of 23 rushes for 78 yards and two fumbles. Especially compared to rookie running back performances in the last two preseasons, this leaves something to be desired.
The pair will likely get a heavy workload in the fourth preseason game and play for their roster spots. The Redskins have shown no fear in stashing young backs on the practice squad and hate to give up on a youngster so soon. However, potential will need to be shown and ball security is paramount to earning the coaching staff's trust.
FORECAST FOR MERIWEATHER
The Redskins defense has a lot invested in veteran safety
If he is not, this could spell trouble in the early going.
As Redskins fans are well aware, there are no guarantees coming back from ACL surgery, and Meriweather has had his injuries in the past. The coaching staff will put Meriweather out there for the first time this preseason as a test of his progress so far, but the defense needs his playmaking ability over the stretch of the season.
If he is not yet ready to go, the coaches need to be conservative and save him for when the games count. If he is healthy and needing to shake off the rust, let him play.
Either way, it will be an encouraging sign for the defense to see No. 31 back in the secondary. Combined with