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Questions remain for Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 29-24 preseason loss to Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — Gridlock is common in the nation's capital, whether it's Congress, the Redskins' starting quarterback dilemma or traffic.

In fact, one of the Bucs' charter buses got stuck in rush hour and arrived late to FedEx Field, less than 90 minutes prior to kickoff of Thursday's preseason finale.

But after the 29-24 loss to the Redskins, there's a pileup at several positions that Bucs coach Raheem Morris must sort out by Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline to reach the 53-man roster.

"It was a tough-fought game by a bunch of guys that will make it tough for me (Saturday)," Morris said. "I'm proud how the team played. For those guys to fight back under those circumstances on the road … those guys had a bunch of fun.

"(Saturday) is going to be a tough day. That's good for the Bucs. That means we're getting better."

In some ways, Thursday's game turned into a duel of Bucs quarterbacks for the No. 3 spot.

Rudy Carpenter went 9-of-18 for 211 yards and a touchdown, and Jonathan Crompton 12-of-22 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Both benefited from the play of Ed Gant.

The former star at Division II North Alabama who grew up in Fort Myers led the Bucs with two catches for 121 yards, including a 96-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on a slant pass from Carpenter. Gant also caught a two-point conversion to give the Bucs a 24-23 lead with 2:07 remaining.

But Redskins quarterback Kellen Clemens hit Donte Stallworth for a 41-yard touchdown with 1:07 remaining for the winner.

"He made a couple plays … and did a nice job all night," Morris said of Gant. "He ran away from people, showed great burst on that one play with great toughness.

"We have great depth at receiver."

With Morris resting all his starters — and in many cases the second-teamers as well — the Bucs made plenty of mistakes Thursday.

A sack of Carpenter resulted in a fumble and, soon after, the Redskins' first touchdown. Washington's Brandon Banks returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown. An overthrown pass by Crompton was intercepted and led to a field goal. Allen fumbled two punts, losing one at the Tampa Bay 24.

And so it went.

John Beck, who is battling Rex Grossman for the Redskins' starting quarterback job, did little to build a consensus by going 10-of-21 for 108 yards and an interception in the first half against a patchwork defense. Grossman did not play.

There were some bright moments for the Bucs.

They got interceptions in the end zone by cornerback D.J. Johnson and safety Devin Holland. Second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers recovered a first-quarter fumble to set up a drive that ended when the Redskins stopped running back Kregg Lumpkin on fourth and goal from the 1.

"They told us before the game we were going to rotate, and it was a little difficult to get into a rhythm," Carpenter said. "But toward the end of the game, we both got some rhythm and got some completions. I think Crompton played really well. But more than anything, Gant played really well. He played great and put us in position to win the game."

Of course, it's possible the Bucs might go with only starter Josh Freeman and backup Josh Johnson as their quarterbacks. Rosters have been expanded to 46 active players, but there is no inactive designation for the third quarterback.

"It's all the decisions you're going to make; whether you're keeping two (quarterbacks), whether you're keeping three," Morris said. "Who's on your practice squad, who's going to be your developmental guy … it's going to be tough."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com.

Questions remain for Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 29-24 preseason loss to Washington Redskins 09/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 2, 2011 7:21am]
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