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Irish Insights

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File | Associated Press

Slaughter shows diversity again ... other notes

Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter proved to be an invaluable Swiss Army knife-type defender last year.

The senior would shift down to linebacker last season for the Irish at times and finished last season with 45 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions.

Slaughter will be called upon to be flexible where he lines up again this season, if Wednesday's spring practice in any indication.

The 6-foot, 200-pounder played cornerback in front of Lo Wood with the first team at one point during the portion of practice open to the media.

"We wanted to do a little cross-training with Jamoris, just in case into an emergency (with injuries)," coach Brian Kelly said after practice.

Kelly said the Irish are able to begin looking at Slaughter playing some cornerback because of the emergence of Austin Collinsworth as a viable safety option alongside Zeke Motta.

Kelly said it is doubtful Slaughter would primarily play cornerback. Notre Dame is replacing starters Gary Gray and Robert Blanton, who both graduated, with Wood, Bennett Jackson, Josh Atkinson and Cam McDaniel.

"He's so flexible that he gives us options," safeties coach Bob Elliott said of Slaughter. "One of the things that has precipitated our ability to move (Slaughter) around is (safety) Austin Collinsworth. He's really had a great spring and continues to show improvement that really allows us to think about those things."

Slaughter's work at cornerback would appear to put Wood's ability to lockdown that starting position in doubt. Wood is the most experienced of the Irish's cornerbacks, playing in 10 games last season and making six tackles and intercepting one pass.

"It's similar to the quarterbacks with consistency in your performance," Kelly said of what the team needs from Wood. "If I really was to boil it down to one thing, it's keep the ball in front of you. That's what we are looking for. He doesn't have to be brilliant, but he's got to defend the post and be able to tackle."

Challenging Nix

Kelly is making sure players know no starting spot is safe, and nose guard Louis Nix is getting that message in practice.

Nix, who started 11 of 13 games and had 45 tackles last season, has worked with the second-team defense recently as Kona Schwenke has taken reps with the first team.

"I would go back and say, even in the spring, we're challenging our players to be consistent," Kelly said. "We want that consistency from them every day.

"With Lou, on Saturday, he's a great player. I love Lou. I love the way he competes on Saturday. We want him to compete every single day, just like we want everybody to have that consistency."

Getting back into the flow

Center Braxston Cave has been brought along slowly during spring practice.

The senior is returning from foot surgery that knocked him out of the last four games last year.

The 6-foot-3, 304-pounder was in full gear Wednesday and worked with the first-team offense.

"He's starting to do more work," Kelly said. "It's the exertion or force against the ground. Every drill on air, he's been in. He's starting to work on punching the bag and starting to move that. We are going to gradually increase that, and that just started today."