The NFL Preseason has reached the stage many know as "dress rehearsal" for the regular season as we enter the third week of play with just two left before opening kickoff between Kansas City and New England.
While this game serves as time for many starters to get action before the regular season, that should only last for a half at most. The rest of the time, rookies and players looking to win roster battles will hit the field trying to shine one more time before the final chance they may get in a week's time.
When it comes to D2 players in the league, they especially need to show up in the preseason contests as they have so many obstacles to getting into the league in the first place. Not every dream will come true of the crop this season, but a select handful will get to continue their playing days after final cutdowns in a week.
Take a look at who needs to have a big week three in order to keep the odds in their favor, racing towards a big finish to the NFL Preseason.
Dashaun Phillips, DB — Pittsburgh Steelers
While this move might just be a potential swap of players who won't make a difference, Phillips still has some practice squad eligibility and therefore could make a splash for the corner-needy Steelers. In his 2016 season with Washington, the Tarleton alum recorded nine tackles in five games of action, including two starts.
The ceiling might not be sky-high for the newest member of the Black-and-Gold, but there is a sliver of hope this could turn into something long-term for Phillips with a good showing.
Adam Shaheen, TE — Chicago Bears
The Bears are still waiting for a breakout game from their second-round pick, and it better come soon to silence those already writing off his impact in the 2017 season.
Through two preseason contests, Shaheen has one catch in each with none going for more than nine yards. Frankly for the receiving threat that "Baby Gronk" is, those are awful numbers, especially considering the rapport he was building with Mitchell Trubisky in the offseason.
There is absolutely no way that Shaheen does not make the final roster for Chicago, but if the Ashland superstar wants to be more than a weekly inactive, he needs to start producing in the aerial attack like he was drafted to do.
Ryan Jensen, C — Baltimore Ravens
I'm not really sure how to accurately judge the performance of a center when your starting franchise quarterback is out for the preseason, but Jensen is facing stiff competition for the starting role with the recent addition of Jeremy Zuttah to the Ravens' O-line.
A CSU-Pueblo product, Jensen was hopeful to battle John Urschel in training camp for the starting center gig, but seemingly won it when Urschel decided to retire. Well, the injury bug has bitten Baltimore something bad this offseason, and the offensive line was one of the biggest victims. Thus, the Ravens saw fit to bring back Zuttah — whom they traded this offseason — to compete with Jensen.
So far it seems that the fourth-year lineman has the edge over the long-time veteran, but things could change at some point in the season if Joe Flacco returns and is not comfortable with the former ThunderWolves star. This is a battle to watch for nearly the entire season because of how it has played so far.
Jeff Janis, WR — Green Bay Packers
A Hail Mary hero to many Packers fans, Janis once again has shown off his incredible skill set in the preseason, but once again is faced with uncertainty with his potential role in the Green Bay offense.
Totaling 15 catches for 188 yards in his first three seasons, the Saginaw Valley State grad has produced to the tune of four catches and 83 yards during the first two exhibition contests. While those numbers likely mean nothing against backups, it shows there is still some potential to a fourth-year receiver that has yet to be released.
Clearly the Packers like Janis or he wouldn't have lasted for four years. But at some point, the SVSU alum needs to become more than a playoff game hero, and actually produce during the regular season. This is his chance to show he can.