Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters after Thursday's practice that he expects to have one defensive player back but still be without one when the Irish (1-2) play at Pittsburgh (2-1) at noon Saturday.
Cornerback Lo Wood, who is dealing with a quad injury, is expect to play Saturday, but linebacker Danny Spond is expected to be out again because of a hamstring injury.
"(Wood) played today in all of our nickel and dime situations," Kelly said Thursday. "We expect him to play."
As for Spond, Kelly said the linebacker is on his way back.
Notre Dame should also have backup tight end Alex Welch, who has missed the last two games after a foot infection, back for Saturday's game.
"Alex Welch was a little sore on Tuesday, but he fought through it," Kelly said. "He had a good day Wednesday and had a very good day today. I expect him to go."
Kelly didn't give too may hints on who would be handling punt returns, other than to say because Pittsburgh keeps its quarterback on the field in punting situations at times that it will not be a normal situation Saturday.
Kelly did say that former Bishop Dwenger standout John Goodman along with receiver Robby Toma and safety Harrison Smith have been working on punt returns this week.
"There will be times we don't have a punt returner in punting situations on the field, because they leave their quarterback on the field," Kelly said. "We've got to be prepared for that. We've got Harrison Smith back there for situations where we believe they are going to punt for sure. But it's rather deceptive in the fact that they only take the quarterback and move him back a couple of yards. You really can't tell when they are running an offensive play. We'll get our punt team out there, but we may not get them out when the quarterback is still on the field."