TAMPA — Given their last opportunity to make a case for making the Bucs' regular-season roster, a pair of undrafted rookies came up with end-zone interceptions in Thursday's game against the Redskins.
CB Keith Lewis, from Virginia-Lynchburg, intercepted a Colt McCoy pass in coverage to end one Redskins drive, and with 18 seconds left in the first half, LB Nate Askew, of Texas A&M, came up with a deflected pass on second and goal to stop another threat.
"We told the guys to do something to make us put them on the team," coach Lovie Smith said at halftime of the 24-10 loss in the preseason finale. "Making big plays like that will at least make us take note."
On a third down from the Bucs' 20-yard line, Lewis ran stride for stride with WR Aldrick Robinson, making a leaping grab for the pick and a touchback.
"Just man coverage, and I had to come up with a big play," Lewis said. "It's big to be able to show the whole team what I can do. I could have played better, though. I'm not satisfied at all."
Askew deflected praise to LB Danny Lansanah, who tipped the pass straight into the air on the goal line, making the grab easy for the rookie.
"It was a great play by Danny Lansanah. He broke on the ball, tipped it in the air, and I made a play on it. I can't take credit for that at all," Askew said. "I felt good that I was able to go out and make a play."
resting: The Bucs played without offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, recovering after an undisclosed medical procedure this week. QB coach Marcus Arroyo called plays. Smith said Tedford is improving.
"Jeff is improving daily," Smith said. "I had a chance to talk to him about an hour before the game. Of course we'd like to have him out there, but he has time. He's making progress, and we'll see how it goes."
splash play: Undrafted rookie Solomon Patton, who looks to have locked down the punt and kickoff return jobs, wanted to make a play as a receiver, and he did just that in the third quarter, catching a 25-yard touchdown pass from QB Mike Kafka.
Patton made a nifty sideline move and dived into the end zone, cutting the Redskins' lead to 17-10. He had a quiet night on returns, averaging just 19.5 yards on two kickoffs and getting 9 on one punt return.
"It felt good," Patton said. "Me being a returner, a lot of people look at me just as a special-teams guy, but it feels good to go out and score a touchdown, to show I can play receiver and make moves."
dismal start: The Bucs' offense rested nearly all its starters — RG Patrick Omameh played a single series, and even backup QB Mike Glennon and RB Bobby Rainey were gone after one drive — and it showed on the scoreboard, with zero points in the first half and 14 yards of total offense. With more sacks (three) than completions (two), the Bucs had minus-13 passing yards in the half.
linebacker battle: Lansanah continues to play well in solidifying a roster spot and challenging Jonathan Casillas for the starting strongside job. Lansanah had three tackles for loss, and Casillas, who was suspended from last week's game at Buffalo for an unspecified violation of team rules, didn't get to take the night off with the rest of the starting defense.
this and that: Rishaw Johnson, acquired last week from the Chiefs, saw extensive action at right guard, making his case to make the 53-man roster. The Bucs stuck with draft picks Kevin Pamphile and Kadeem Edwards on the left side through the fourth quarter, with undrafted rookie Josh Allen at center. … WR Louis Murphy (Lakewood/Gators) left the game in the third quarter with a back injury. He had three catches for 33 yards before the injury.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman.