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Buccaneers vs. Washington: Three Key matchups on defense

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Mike Ehrmann

T Demar Dotson vs. LB Ryan Kerrigan

Many Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted Ryan Kerrigan to be the team's draft pick in 2011. Those fans never got that chance, as he came off the board before the Bucs even got a chance to turn in their card, but he's still tormenting those fans. Whereas Adrian Clayborn has turned into what we can now comfortably call a disappointment, Kerrigan has been a steady if not spectacular producer -- and he has 7.5 sacks this season.

Which means Demar Dotson is going to have shut him down. Dotson is not having as good of a season as he did last year, but he's still very much an above-average right tackle who excels at pass-blocking. Unlike most teams, Washington actually has its most prolific pass-rusher on the left side of the defensive line, which means that for once, Anthony Collins won't be the one most hard-pressed to stop the opposing pass rush. He gets to toy with rookie Trent Murphy, instead.

WR Mike Evans vs CB David Amerson

Mike Evans is really good, and he should be able to put up some quality numbers against Washington's terrible pass defense. He'll primarily deal with David Amerson in coverage, a second-year player who has struggled to keep up, but whose main backup is E.J. Biggers -- which means he's not going to leave the field. Amerson generally sticks to the right side of the defense, which is where Evans usually lines up, too.

With Evans putting up 124 and 125 yards in the last two games respectively, he's perfectly situated to put up another 120-yard game. The big wideout has grasped many of the nuances of the NFL game relatively quickly, and he's displayed an uncanny knack for making tough sideline catches. To help matters further, Josh McCown actually threw him the ball last game -- and didn't look as hesitant as he was earlier in the season.

RB Bobby Rainey vs S Brandon Merriweather

No Doug Martin on Sunday, which means Bobby Rainey gets to shine again. Time to make some guys miss! Because mostly, that's what the Bucs' running have not been able to do this season.

Target this week: Brandon Merriweather, who is not very good. Especially not in coverage, but also not really in the running game. He's a little bit like Roman Harper, who was pretty routinely exploited by the Bucs when he was still starting in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, Bobby Rainey has to convince the Bucs that he's worthy of getting more and more carries. Charles Sims is hot on his tail, and Doug Martin won't completely disappear from the backfield either. Sims somehow received more carries than a more-productive Rainey last week, and we may see that again this week, but if the Bucs want to win they need Rainey to carry this offense just a little.