LANDOVER, Md. — Every year, Brett Ratliff has moved to a new team in a new city, playing for six organizations over the past half-dozen years and sticking with none.
"I just love the game. I love playing," the Bucs quarterback said, slinging his equipment bag over his shoulder. "I'd do this forever. Also, I have an amazing family and an amazing wife, and she supports me in all of it.
"We've moved 13 times. We've definitely done our share."
Wednesday, the 27-year-old Ratliff got to do something he had only dreamed about: play an entire game — albeit in the preseason.
He was sacked five times, absorbed 15 hits behind a patchwork offensive line, threw three interceptions and failed to get the Bucs in the end zone in a 30-3 loss to the Redskins.
"He had a gutsy performance," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said of Ratliff. "There were certain things that we missed, both in protections and seeing it from the quarterback spot. But the thing is he wanted to keep playing.
"I love that about guys who want to play ball."
When Schiano and his staff reduce the Bucs roster from 75 to 53 by 9 p.m. Friday, it's almost a forgone conclusion Ratliff will be back on the street again.
Signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2007 out of Utah, Ratliff has spent time with the Jets (2007-08), Browns (2009-10) Jaguars (2010), Patriots (2010) and Titans (2011). He has never appeared in a regular-season game and spent only four weeks on an active roster (in Cleveland).
Wednesday, Ratliff had to play behind an offensive line intentionally scrambled by Schiano. Tackle Jamon Meredith played guard. Ted Larsen, who replaced injured guard Davin Joseph on Friday against the Patriots, started at center.
The result was an offense outgained 459-160 and outrushed 228-31.
But that doesn't bother guys such as Ratliff, who finished 14-of-30 for 164 yards, three picks and a 24.2 rating.
"I'm just grateful for the opportunity to go out and play," Ratliff said. "It's a huge blessing to be able to start and play an entire game. I had some mistakes, got hit a little bit. It's definitely not how you dream it up. It would've been nice to get the ball in the end zone. I had mistakes, but I left everything I had on the field."
The lack of execution on offense will make Schiano's job that much harder. Tiquan Underwood had six catches for 82 yards. The receiver with whom he's battling for a roster spot, Sammie Stroughter, had two for 30 yards.
How was Schiano able to evaluate players based on Wednesday's game?
"It wasn't easy," he said. "But I think we wanted to see some guys at guard, some guys at center, guys who've played different positions than they've played."
But the real discoveries were on defense.
Sean Baker, an undrafted free agent from Ball State, had two interceptions in the third quarter. Rookie safety Keith Tandy, a sixth-round pick who started ahead of third-year veteran Cody Grimm, was active and might have won a job along with West Virginia teammate, linebacker and fifth-round pick Najee Goode.
Meanwhile, Ratliff will have to wait and wonder until Friday if the Bucs will carry him as a third quarterback behind Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky. If not, he'll continue throwing on the move.
"I've had some amazing opportunities and definitely have had the favor of God over me," Ratliff said.
"There have been times when I said, 'Keep going.' I just keep going, and I'm going to keep doing it until they don't let me do it anymore."
Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected] and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.