While preseason games are meaningless when it comes to the standings, they have a major impact on the NFL careers of hundreds of players. A player can play his way on or off of a roster during the preseason. A few have done just that this preseason and at least one veteran appears to be on the upswing.
Here is a closer look at whose stock is rising, and whose is falling with two weeks of the preseason remaining.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco
San Francisco's offense excelled after Colin Kaepernick took over as the starter, but not every 49er posted big numbers following the switch. Vernon Davis struggled following the move, catching just six passes for 61 yards during the final six regular-season games. Whatever issues the two had getting on the same page appear to be resolved.
"Last year when he first got the starting job, we'd be at practice and he'd keep overthrowing me. I'd be running as fast as I possibly could and Colin just kept overthrowing me," Davis said, via CSN Bay Area. "Now we get out there and it's night and day. He puts the ball right there. Man, he's come a long way. I'm very impressed."
Matt Maiocco said the Kaepernick/Davis duo was "seemingly unstoppable" during one recent practice.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seattle
Not many players have taken advantage of opportunity better than Jermaine Kearse has this preseason. He opened camp competing for one of the final wide receiver spots on the roster. With Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice missing time due to injuries, Kearse was given a chance to play and he took advantage. He caught a touchdown against the Broncos on Saturday and returned a kickoff 107 yards for another score.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle times said Kearse is now not only secure to make the roster, but will likely be a "key part of the receiving rotation."
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland
Cameron flashed receiving skills before his two-touchdown performance against Detroit, but that's not the only reason his stock is up. In order to play and put those receiving skills to use, Cameron has to be a complete player, something Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner said he is becoming.
"Everyone got excited about the three catches,'' Turner said, via Cleveland.com. "I got excited about how he played inside in pass protection and against the run. He's improving in that area, and that's the area he needs to improve the most. He's shown in both games he's capable of making big plays.''
Josh Cribbs, WR/KR, Oakland
Once among the most-dangerous kick returners in the NFL, Cribbs has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons. Now with the Raiders, Cribbs appears a step slow this preseason and could be in danger of not making the 53-man roster.
Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com said Cribbs still has the instincts and vision, but doesn't have the speed to hit the crease. The burst is something Raiders coach Dennis Allen is looking for as well.
"I think we've got to see the burst and the explosion," Allen said. "That's something that we're looking for in the next couple of games."
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis
The Rams gave Isaiah Pead an opportunity to showcase his skills against Green Bay, but the results were minimal. Pead started the game and ran for 19 yards on 11 attempts working with the first-team offense. Pead showed flashes, including a 10-yard reception, but is still well behind Daryl Richardson in the competition for the starting job.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Richardson increased his "considerable" lead for the starting job, despite playing only four snaps against Green Bay. Pead, a second-round pick in 2012, was supposed to be the future in St. Louis. That could still happen, but for now he'll play behind Richardson, a 2012 seventh-round pick.
Mike Thomas, WR, free agent
The Lions released Mike Thomas on Monday as his career downspiral continues. Thomas excelled early in his career in Jacksonville, before his play dropped off over the last two seasons. He spent most of training camp with the backups before being released.
To make matters worse, Detroit released Thomas despite having traded a fifth-round pick for him last year and still owing him $1 million in guaranteed money.