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Redskins-Buccaneers: 4 Players to Watch

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Redskins.com looks at four key players to keep an eye on during Thursday night's Redskins-Buccaneers game at FedExField.

"Redskins-Buccaneers: 4 Players to Watch" is presented by Papa John's.

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RYAN TORAIN

Torain makes his 2011 preseason debut three weeks late. He suffered a fractured hand early in training camp and was sidelined until this week.

Torain, 6-1 and 218 pounds, is a big back with good speed and an ability to break tackles. He has been slowed by injuries each of his three years in the NFL and he knows he must find a way to stay healthy to shed the injury prone label.

On Thursday night vs. Tampa Bay, Torain finds himself competing with rookie Evan Royster – and possibly backup fullback Keiland Williams – for the Redskins' last roster spot at running back.

Working to his advantage: he rushed for 172 yards against the Buccaneers in a December 2010 game. Working to his disadvantage: he may be too similar in size and style to 6-0, 220-pound Tim Hightower, who has emerged as the Redskins' starter at the position.

BRANDON BANKS

Banks has proven time and again he's a game-changer on kick returns. Even in the Redskins' preseason opener on Aug. 12, he had a 58-yard kickoff return and a 16-yard punt return.

Like Torain, injuries have become a concern with Banks. He missed time in training camp due to knee soreness and he sat out the second and third preseason games.

Banks returns to action on Thursday night vs. Tampa Bay. His dazzling speed gives the special teams a boost, but he must also show he can make an impact at wide receiver. He had two catches last season.

Banks is likely competing with Donte Stallworth and rookies Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson for a roster spot, depending on how many wide receivers coaches decide to keep. He is a viable option in a wildcat formation, so that perhaps gives him an edge.

REED DOUGHTY

With LaRon Landry uncertain for the Redskins' regular season opener due to a hamstring injury, Doughty could be in line to start in his place at strong safety.

Very quietly, Doughty has had a strong training camp and preseason. Like many of the returning Redskins veterans, he appears more confident in his second year in the 3-4 defense.

Last week vs. Baltimore, he showed his effectiveness against the run by blitzing into the backfield and tackling a Ravens running back for a 7-yard loss. Overall, Doughty has three tackles in preseason, two of them for a loss.

Pass coverage has been a challenge for Doughty in the past. Offenses may try to target him in coverage. Keep an eye on how Redskins coaches use Doughty on passing downs for an idea on how they would use him if Landry is sidelined.

CHRIS NEILD

The season-ending injury to rookie Jarvis Jenkins last week has had a ripple effect. Neild, the Redskins' last of four seventh-round draft picks last April, could stand to benefit.

Coaches may slide nose tackle Barry Cofield to defensive end in some packages and that could open the door for Neild to earn a roster spot and see playing time as a rookie.

Neild, a classic nose tackle at 6-2 and 313 pounds, has been stout against the run – last year at West Virginia, the Mountaineers were second in the nation in run defense in part due to Neild clogging the middle.

He could see a lot of playing time against Tampa Bay as coaches evaluate if he's ready for a larger role.

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