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Fearless Prediction: Buccaneers (0-3) at Redskins (1-2)

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Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Laura Okmin)
SERIES: 16th meeting. The Bucs lead the series 8-7 and have won four of five (the teams have split two playoff games). The most memorable recent game was in 2005 when the host Bucs won 36-35 on a controversial two-point conversion run by Mike Alstott in the final minute. KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins are banking Tampa Bay protecting its struggling secondary (NFL-worst 14.2 yards per completion) to help Washington's ground game. The Redskins are averaging just 91.7 rushing yards per game because the inexperience of RG Chad Rinehart and RT Stephon Heyer forces most running plays to be called to the left side, which creates too much predictability. However, with the Bucs forced to compensate for their poor pass protection, they can't use eight defenders against the run. Tampa Bay has its own offensive line issues with C Jeff Faine injured. The Bucs can't protect up the middle, and part of the switch to first-time starting QB Josh Johnson was predicated on his improved mobility. But Tampa Bay's ground game must control this one. FAST FACTS: The Bucs have a seven-game losing streak. ... The Redskins have scored 20 points or less in 10 of their past 11 games.

Personnel News

Bucs:
  • WR Antonio Bryant was limited in practice Thursday.
  • RB Derrick Ward (knee) did not practice Thursday.
  • RB Earnest Graham returned to practice Thursday despite a hamstring injury.
  • DE Gaines Adams has a groin injury and has not practiced this week.
  • DT Roy Miller has an ankle injury but has practiced and will play Sunday. Redskins:
  • CB DeAngelo Hall "tweaked" an ankle, according to coach Jim Zorn, during Thursday's practice but is expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.
  • DT Cornelius Griffin bruised a thigh during Thursday's practice but is expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.
  • DT Anthony Montgomery sat out on Thursday with a recurrence of roughness in a knee. Montgomery will likely be inactive for a fourth straight week.
  • CB Carlos Rogers (ankle) returned on Thursday after missing Wednesday's practice with the sprained left ankle he suffered last Sunday at Detroit. He's expected to start.
  • DT Albert Haynesworth (hip) didn't practice again on Thursday after being injured at Detroit. He's expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.
  • RB Clinton Portis (calf) didn't again practice on Thursday after being injured at Detroit. He's expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.
  • FB Mike Sellers (quadricep) didn't practice again on Thursday after being injured at Detroit. He's expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.

    Inside the Camps

    Bucs: The Bucs need to start having success running the football again. That's the defined key to the team's success, at least in the mind of the coaching staff. With a change at quarterback, there won't be any more -- or less -- emphasis on running. "It's got to be what we do, it's got to be what we're about, it's got to be who we are," said coach Raheem Morris. Tampa Bay had 10 carries for 28 yards against the Giants. The injury to center Jeff Faine has been an issue. His replacement, Sean Mahan, didn't make the original 53-man roster. With the inability to run the football, and the lack of mobility by quarterback Byron Leftwich, opponents have brought an array of blitzes through the A-gaps. By starting Josh Johnson at quarterback, the Redskins will have to honor the perimeter and that should help the Bucs' running game. Redskins: Eleven days after making the game-saving pass breakup against St. Louis and four days after committing a critical pass interference penalty in a shocking loss at Detroit, strong safety Chris Horton was benched for predecessor Reed Doughty. "Reed has actually played better the last couple weeks and Chris has struggled a little bit," said defensive coordinator Greg Blache. "It's not that we're down on him, but the fact we have a guy in Reed that is so close to him, it gives us an opportunity to give him a chance and it gives Chris a chance to catch his breath and re-focus. Reed's playing as good as he's ever played for us. He's got experience and he's a savvy player." Of course, Horton, who soared from seventh-round draft pick to the All-Rookie team in 2008, wasn't happy. "I have a right to be disappointed because I'm a competitor," Horton said. "But it's not going to change the way I prepare for the game. I'm still going to come and play. And when they do put me in in those extra packages, I've got to make my plays. I've got to kind of do what I did last year and just keep showing that, hey, this guy can play and he makes plays for us." Doughty, a sixth-rounder in 2006 who finished 2007 as a starter after Sean Taylor was hurt and then murdered, played 28 snaps off the bench against the Lions and about the same in the opener when Horton struggled against the New York Giants. "I don't know why they're making the switch," Doughty said. "You do the job to the best of your ability. You gotta make tackles. You gotta make plays. Hopefully I can make some and when he's in there, hopefully he can make some. I'm going to play as long as I can play. If they want me out there, I'm going to try to give them a reason to keep me out there. That's what I hope to do each and every week. I feel like when I've played so far this season I haven't given them a reason to not put me out there." Doughty, who has become a special teams leader this season, feels he's more ready to be the starter than he was in 2007 or 2008. "My ability was there when I started when Sean passed and even in the preseason last year, but now I have a comfort level that I can play and be a part of a defense that can do well," Doughty said. PREDICTION: Redskins 20-13
  • Tagged: Lions, Buccaneers, Redskins, Mike Sellers, Cornelius Griffin, Clinton Portis, Antonio Bryant, Albert Haynesworth, Byron Leftwich, Jeff Faine, Sean Mahan, DeAngelo Hall, Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham, Carlos Rogers, Anthony Montgomery, Gaines Adams, Stephon Heyer, Chris Horton, Josh Johnson, Chad Rinehart, Roy Miller III

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