Jamoris Slaughter may be healthy this year, but that doesn't mean there is a fierce battle for playing time between him and fellow safety Zeke Motta for the spot next to team captain Harrison Smith in the defensive backfield.
Slaughter, who started the season opener last year but was slowed the rest of the season by ankle and hamstring injuries, and Motta are both starters in safeties coach Chuck Martin's book.
"They are both going to get a ton of reps on defense, a ton of reps on special teams. They are both going to play more reps than they can handle every Saturday," Martin said. "From our standpoint, we've got three starters, and they are all going to play. There is plenty of football to go around.
"Is it nice to have three competing for playing time? Yes. Is it nice to have competition and they are both growing together? Yeah, that's nice. But the end result, we're not worried about. I got them where they are just playing. (Zeke) is not trying to beat out Jamoris. Jamoris is not trying to beat out Zeke. They are just both trying to become the best."
The Irish can only hope that Slaughter and Motta become as effective as Smith did last year.
Smith, who moved to safety in 2009 but finished that season back at linebacker, had a breakout year in 2010. The fifth-year season had a team-best seven interceptions and was second on the team in tackles with 93.
Smith's performance last year landed him on the Nagurski Award Watch List. The award is given to the top defensive back.
And it silenced a lot of critics.
"He was one of the most hated Notre Dame players around. I never heard a good thing about him," Martin said of Smith "I was here for about eight months, and the only thing I heard about Harrison was negative stuff. And it was pretty loud, all of it.
"I don't know enough about what else is out there, he's pretty damn good, I know that. He's capable of doing in our system all the different things we need him to do. In our system, I know that we (wouldn't) trade him for anyone."
For more on the Irish's safety situation, read Thursday's Journal Gazette or go to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.