Not so much to prove himself as a running back. Graham is not looking to be the second-team running back, as much as he is looking to be the other first-team running back. Lewis is still the guy, but today is Graham's first chance to prove how involved he can be in the offense.
Gaskins has worked exclusively as the first-team right guard, even going back to the spring. With a good performance on Saturday, Gaskins can take another step forward, in claiming the starting spot at right guard.
Like Gaskins, Karabin has taken every rep, through the first week of camp, at with the first group at center. A good performance today might nail it down for him, even though Jack Lippert has had a solid camp.
Street took some first-team reps on Thursday, and had a couple days where he was making plays. The last couple of days, he's been getting a bit complacent on his catches--something commonly seen with a freshman or redshirt freshman. If he can overcome those obstacles, he can take a step to claiming a spot on the depth chart behind Jon Baldwin or Mike Shanahan.
Cross missed a few days in the early part of the week with an ankle injury, which set him back a little, but he is still in the mix. Street has struggled with some drops, Friday and in Saturday morning's practice. Cross has the athleticism, and now a second year playing receiver, to his resume. If he gets involved early on Saturday, he can make his move.
Tinker might not be as flashy as Street, but he is consistent at catching the football. Cameron Saddler is firmly entrenched as the slot receiver, but it looks like Tinker can be in a battle with Cross and Street to back up either Shanahan or Baldwin.
The coaches have been trying out Lippert at guard and center this week, moreso at center. He's been playing guard for a bevy of reasons--the numbers at guard are thin and if he's going to be the center some day, he needs to get a feel for the guard's assignments. In the process, he hasn't looked too bad at guard either. It's not a question of whether he will win the starting center job now, as much as it might be Lippert battling for a spot as the team's sixth- or seventh-best lineman.
Of any of the true freshman lineman, Sacco is the most ready. With Lippert at guard, in some second-team situations, Sacco is the center. The earlier that Sacco and Lippert prove to work together, the better it will work out for both of them.
Dave Wannstedt has praised Nix all week--everything from his work in the offseason, to the camp he's having. The last two days have seen him working with the first group at defensive end, as Greg Romeus and Shayne Hale are out with injuries. Has he beaten out Brandon Lindsey as the team's third defensive end, or is this more of a tune up to get him acclimated to playing against first-team offensive linemen?
TYRONE EZELL/TYLER TKACH
These two have been working exclusively at second-team defensive tackles, and look like they will be valuable members of the rotation on the defensive line. The question is, which one goes in for Myles Caragein or Chas Alecxih first? Saturday might start determining which one of these players goes into the game first, as the third defensive tackle.
A bit of a late addition here, but Hargrove has worked with the second-team at defensive end position the last two practices. This is a last resort move, to see if there is a need to play Brandon Murphy and T.J. Clemmings this year. It's still 50-50 whether the two freshmen will either redshirt or play, but if Hargrove plays well in the absence of Shayne Hale, or at least looks serviceable, it may go a long way in telling us if Murphy and Clemmings will get redshirted.
CARL FLEMING/MANNY WILLIAMS
Throughout the week, Fleming took more reps away from Williams each day. A good performance in Saturday's scrimmage might make him more permanent there. With Shane Gordon and Kevin Adams playing alongside him--this redshirt freshman class of linebackers, all of a sudden, makes the position look promising.
Adams will disappear from the second group when Tristan Roberts returns, but Saturday is a chance for him to prove that he's the next linebacker in line. Wannstedt said on Thursday, he likes the four linebackers (Greg Williams, Roberts, Dan Mason, Max Gruder), but that now, he's looking for the top seven or eight. Adams is in a battle to make that seven or eight.
Though he played strictly second team before Roberts went down with the injury on Friday, he can make up some ground with a good performance Saturday.
Jackson is the third-corner right now, by default, mostly because no one else has stepped up. He has all the intangibles you could ever want out of a corner. Now, he just needs to make plays. Even one interception and a pass deflection on Saturday, would open some eyes.
Williams has the closest shot at any freshman player, regardless of position, to seeing the field. Jackson seems to have overtaken Imoru as the third-corner, and now, Williams has a chance to beat out Imoru for a spot on the second team. Saturday will be the litmus test.