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Four players who need a big weekend

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Week 2 of the preseason is here.

It all kicked off Thursday night with four games on the schedule. This stretch begins a vitally important weekend for hundreds of NFL players looking to lock down a starting job or simply secure a roster spot.

With that in mind, here's a list of four prominent players who could use a strong performance between now and Monday night.

Montee Ball, Denver Broncos


Ball managed just 9 yards on five carries in the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Fortunately for Ball, Ronnie Hillman didn't do much better. A popular pick to assume the featured back role in Denver, Ball can open eyes with a breakout performance against a great Seattle Seahawks defense Saturday.

Graham Harrell, Green Bay Packers


When coach Mike McCarthy praised Vince Young's progress in learning the Packers' offense this week, you knew it was a bad sign for Harrell, who is in legitimate danger of losing his roster spot. Young is sure to see plenty of work Saturday against the St. Louis Rams. Harrell played poorly in the preseason opener. When he gets his shot this weekend, he has to take advantage.

Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins


The Dolphins spent big this offseason, but they let Jake Long walk in free agency and failed to trade for Branden Albert. That puts Martin under the microscope as the game's most scrutinized offensive lineman.

Martin has had his moments this summer, but legitimate questions remain about if he can consistently protect Ryan Tannehill. We should get a nice gauge of his progress Saturday, when the Dolphins meet J.J. Watt and the Texans.

Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars


Gabbert was given the starting nod for Friday's game against the New York Jets. Though that decision might speak to the Jaguars' lack of options at quarterback more than anything else, it ultimately means another opportunity for Gabbert to show he's capable of leading this team into the regular season.

Gabbert showed no ability to move the team in the preseason opener, managing just 19 yards on 10 passes against the Dolphins. It goes without saying that Gabbert needs to be better. Much better.

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