LANDOVER, Md. — All Sean Baker can do is take satisfaction in his relentless effort. Keith Tandy will hope his tenacity has made a lasting impression. And Leonard Johnson only wants to make good on a precious chance.
These members of the Bucs' secondary will spend the next day-plus sweating the team's final roster decisions, due Friday at 9 p.m.
But during Wednesday night's 30-3 loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field, they did their best to get off the bubble.
Baker, an undrafted rookie from Ball State, took full advantage of extensive playing time, recording two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He had limited playing time for much of the preseason, but has tended to be around the ball in practices. Wednesday, he took the next step.
Baker returned his second interception 26 yards to the Redskins' 48-yard line on a night when the offense struggled to produce that kind of yardage. What impression has he left?
"Hopefully a good one," Baker said. "I came out here since Day 1 and I've been busting my tail, doing whatever I can to help this team get better. I did all I could do and the rest just has to fall into place."
The safety position is crowded, making Baker a longshot. But Tandy appears to have better odds. Leading the club in tackles in two straight preseason games never hurts; Tandy racked up nine against Washington.
"I've just been trying to make sure I do my job and my assignments and then, most of all, I've been trying to make sure I fly around and get to the ball because that's what coaches want to see," he said.
At West Virginia, the sixth-round draft pick played cornerback and made a habit of taking ballcarriers to the ground.
"That's nothing new for me," Tandy said. "The angles are different now (at safety), but I've done it."
Tandy's versatility might give him the edge over a player like veteran Cody Grimm, who hasn't distinguished himself during practices or preseason games.
Clearwater native Johnson, undrafted out of Iowa State, has refused to go quietly, showing potential throughout camp and the preseason. His performance has been consistent enough to jeopardize 2010 third-round pick Myron Lewis, who has faded after his best training camp.
"I didn't make every play, but I think I showed some signs of being a promising football player," said Johnson, who started and played about a half. "I came in undrafted, started from the bottom. But all I needed was an opportunity, and I was presented an opportunity in camp. Everything's in God's hands."