That's been the process at training camp's opening week with Bryant McKinnie, Billy McMullen and Erasmus James starting camp sidelined with injuries and various other players taking a day off here and there with different nicks, strains and bruises.
McKinnie is out and Artis Hicks slides to left tackle. With Hicks there, Anthony Herrera plays right guard. Ben Leber strains a leg and Dontarrious Thomas is practicing as the starting strongside linebacker. Chester Taylor gets a forearm contusion and Adrian Peterson steps into the starting lineup.
On Wednesday, it was Martin Nance's turn.
With Billy McMullen still on the non-football injury list and Aundrae Allison missing much of the morning practice and all of the afternoon sessions with a barking hamstring, Nance reminded observers of his receiving skills.
"I've spent over a year in this offense right now and worked a lot of hours with the quarterbacks in the offseason, so I'm excited to put it on the field," said the 6-foot-3, 212-pound receiver.
For 14 games last season, Nance was just another name on the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad. Before the 15th game, he was promoted to the 53-man roster but was still part of the eight players who were made game-day deactives.
And then came his one shot to "put it on film" during a game situation and he made the most of it. In the season-ending game with St. Louis, Nance caught four passes for 33 yards, tying for the most catches by a rookie free agent in 2006.
He hasn't become an immediate superstar, but he did go from unknown commodity to one of the first players head coach Brad Childress mentioned in the offseason before the draft when talking about the receiver corps.
"The guy that played the last game, Martin Nance, looks like he's had a very good offseason before the offseason program even started …" Childress said at the owners meetings in late March.
"He played with (Ben) Roethlisberger at Miami-Ohio, so he has some knowledge about the passing game. He's a bigger-in-stature kid, can bend, has good hands. He needs to improve on his physical ability at the line of scrimmage to get off his press coverage."
Nance finished his Redhawks career with the third-most receptions in school history and averaged 107 yards per game in 2003, setting a school record with 90 catches for 1,493 yards.
Nance said he didn't see Childress's comments from the owners' meetings, "but Coach Childress has a great grasp of that offense and any compliments that we get from him, we appreciate."
If Wednesday's repetitions in several different situations were any indication, Nance has found a way to free himself from at least the second-string cornerbacks. In the morning practice, he and Tarvaris Jackson connected on a 45-yard reception down the left sideline during cornerback-vs.-wide receiver drills. Later, during seven-on-seven work in the red zone, he caught a 15-yard touchdown from Jackson. He added another long reception from Brooks Bollinger during nine-on-seven work.
"Me and Tarvaris have put in a ton of hours in the offseason together so when you come out here it may appear like I'm meshing with one guy more than the other, but I think I have a good connection with all the guys," Nance said. "They do a great job of making the reads that they're taught so we know where and when to expect the ball from all of those guys."
But it all started when the Buffalo Bills released him just before the start of last season and the Vikings picked him up, finally giving him a chance to show his skills during the last game of 2006.
"It was exciting for me," Nance said. "It gave me a spark and inspired me to work hard all offseason and really just gave me the motivation coming into the year," Nance said, adding later that "going into the preseason, I just want a chance to put my product on the field and help the team win."
Observations from Wednesday afternoon's practice, conducted in helmets, shorts and soft shoulder pads:
During 7-on-7 drills:
During 11-on-11 work: