The NFL Preseason gets underway Wednesday night when the Panthers take on the Texans for the first "official" game of the football season.
With 16 total games between Wednesday and Sunday, it is time to prepare for the D2 alum who will be trying to shine bright under the lights either for the first time in their NFL career, or once again for those who are established players.
While every player is worth watching to see what they can do, here are a few who will be especially noteworthy for preseason week one. Make sure to check back next week for a recap of every D2 player on how they did in the preseason opening week, a regular series we will be starting for the entire NFL season.
Terrell Watson, RB — Pittsburgh Steelers
Week One Opponent: New York Giants, Friday, 7 p.m. ET
A former Harlon Hill finalist while playing at Azusa Pacific, Watson has had some rough tredding trying to get a hold on an NFL roster spot since entering the league in 2015. But as we documented earlier this week, it seems he is making headway with the Steelers and could at least make the practice squad.
Where Watson needs to shine is running the ball in short-yardage situations, something his 240-pound frame should be able to handle effectively. Up until the Steelers August 6 practice, Watson had not fumbled either, and has still only coughed up one ball against a very stingy Steelers' D.
The best way to get noticed is on a score, and if the former Cougar of APU can put up 30 yards with a score, then he might begin to distance himself from the other lower-ranked backs on the depth chart.
Danny Woodhead, RB — Baltimore Ravens
Week One Opponent: Washington, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Woodhead is a nine-year veteran of the league since graduating from Chadron State, but he has a spotlight on him this year as 1) he is changing teams from the Chargers to the Ravens, and 2) Woodhead is coming off of a torn ACL injury.
Another interesting aspect to Woodhead's potential effectiveness is that Baltimore back Kenneth Dixon is out for the year with a torn meniscus, and the Ravens really don't have much besides the two-time Harlon Hill winner (2006, 2007) to inspire confidence based on name.
With as many injuries the Ravens have suffered in their camp this year, anything else that could be "significant" might derail their season already. Woodhead has been a steady contributor throughout his career, but now he must become the guy as the Ravens search for answers on the offensive side of the ball.
Donatello Brown, DB — Green Bay Packers
Week One Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
An undrafted free agent signed after the 2017 Draft, Brown has undoubtedly been overshadowed by draftees Kevin King and Josh Jones as the Pack tries to retool what was a bad secondary in 2016.
Even though you may not have heard his name, the former Valdosta State Blazer actually has a chance to make it to the final 53 based on the opinion of Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune writers Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty, among others.
Brown will need to play well when he is on the field, and he should be out there a lot starting in the third quarter when backups become the norm to see. A couple of pass breakups or an interception will get him noticed by Packers coaches and fans, and make his case for the final roster even more compelling.
Dylan Donahue, LB — New York Jets
Week One Opponent: Tennessee Titans, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
A sixth-round pick in the 2017 Draft, Donahue has been a huge surprise in Jets camp thus far, as he has even gotten reps with the first team at outside linebacker.
While the Jets have not released their depth chart for the preseason opener as of Tuesday morning, Donahue should at least be getting second-team reps and maybe occasional work with the starters through the preseason.
Transitioning from a down lineman into a stand up defender seems to be no challenge so far for the former All American out of West Georgia, but game speed is much quicker than practices. If Donahue fails to make impact plays, his times near the top of the depth chart might come to an end soon.