The battle between Braxston Cave and Dan Wenger for the starting center position job continues to be one of the more intriguing at Notre Dame.
But while discussing the centers on Tuesday, coach Brian Kelly offered even more intrigue to the offensive line discussion.
Kelly said sophomore Chris Watt, who could be used as a backup center to the Cave-Wenger combo, has a chance to start at left guard.
Left guard appeared to be one of the most stable positions on the line with fifth-year senior Chris Stewart lining up there.
"He's had a good camp. He is strong, physical and moves his feet well," Kelly said of Watt.
As far as the competition at center, Kelly said Cave and Wenger are good players and can play the position. But each has something to work on.
"Braxston Cave is a very physical player," Kelly said. "I have great confidence that he can move any nose. He can do things physically in the run game. He needs to continue to polish in the pass game.
"Wenger is a pretty good pass protection guy. He needs to get the same kind of push Braxston Cave can get."
Notre Dame isn't overloaded with safeties, but the four main options – Harrison Smith, Jamoris Slaughter, Zeke Motta and Dan McCarthy – have Kelly's confidence.
And Motta is showing that he can be utilized in more than the safety spot when called upon.
"Slaughter and Harrison Smith have been our most consistent," Kelly said. "Zeke has really put himself in a position to get on field a lot more, not only at that safety position, but maybe in some of the other packages that we have. He's really done a nice job for us. He'll play considerable time,
"I really like the four-man rotation back there with Harrison Smith kind of leading the way. Probably if there's one guy who's going to be on the field more than anybody else, it's going to be Harrison Smith."
Darius Fleming will likely start as the CAT linebacker spot, the linebacker who pushes up to the line more, while the DOG linebacker, who drops back in coverage more, remains a heated battle.
Brian Smith started as the top dog at the DOG linebacker, but he was replaced by Steve Filer at one point and now Kerry Neal has overtaken both of them.
Kelly said Neal's physical play, enthusiasm to play, running ability and intelligence has put him ahead of Smith.
"I think he's a guy who's at a comfortable position," Kelly said. "He's where he needs to be, and I think he feels that way. When he comes to practice every day, he's playing with a lot of confidence. When you have a guy playing with a lot of confidence, has the athletic ability and he's a mature kid, I think all those three things contribute to the way he's practicing at that position."
Neal may be the starter now, but Smith is still pushing to be a starter.
"It's easy for us to always point to the guy we think is not doing the job," Kelly said. "Brian, his game elevated last two, three days. Kerry Neal is a pretty good football player too. He plays physical, a very smart football player, understands the drop and CAT positions. I think it is a very competitive situation, and Kerry is ahead of him right now. Brian has shown a fight in him that being second is not where he wants to be. That is a positive thing for us and our football team."
Senior Duval Kamara and freshman TJ Jones will be sharing time at the third receiver spot with Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick pretty well entrenched at the other two spots.
Kelly said Kamara and Jones have been getting the bulk of the work at the X position, a receiver who lines up on the outside, and they both bring different positives to the spot.
"TJ with quickness and his ability to a punch hole in the top of the coverage," Kelly said. "Duval with his size and experience. I know he hasn't played ton, but he's been on the road. He knows what it is like to be playing in a BCS football game, TJ just knows high school football right now. It is a combination of those two players."
Cierre Wood has moved to the No. 2 spot at running back behind Armando Allen, Kelly said.
Thee sophomore, who didn't play last season, moved past senior Robert Hughes and junior Jonas Gray on the depth chart.
"Armando and him are running one-two," Kelly said of Wood. "Jonas and Hughes are getting the rest of the reps. Right now, Armando and Cierre have shown they are running one-two right now."