Coach Steve Sarkisian might be noting publicly that he wants to shift many guys through for looks with the first-string offense, but in the past three days, it's been Kavario Middleton who has taken at least 95 percent of the snaps at tight end with that group.
Even the linemen know it.
"I don't know what the depth (chart) is at that position, but I've noticed," tackle Cody Habben said. "I've seen him quite a bit in there."
He played in all 12 games as a true freshman out of Lakes High in 2008, including two starts at the beginning of the season against Oregon and Brigham Young.
His role diminished as the season progressed. He had 12 catches for 82 yards and no scores.
By the end of last spring, he really impressed Sarkisian with his attention to detail, and in the offseason, slimmed down 15 to 20 pounds.
On Tuesday, while Sarksian wouldn't anoint Middleton the undisputed start in the position battle with Chris Izbicki, he did say the sophomore is "being more of an impact guy," and that "a guy of his talent, that's how you want him to be. He can be that type of player."
Middleton sees the writing on the wall. It's his position to lock down.
"Yeah, I feel like it's my time, my year," Middleton said. "The opportunity is open for me to take. It's up to me. I work hard on my technique, make sure I'm mastering all my stuff the coaches are working with me."
From Saturday morning practice:
&bull It's becoming more commonplace at practice – the offense gets the upper hand in 7-on-7 drills, and the defense more often that not puts the smackdown when linemen are added to the mix.
Is the first-string offensive line a concern at this point?
"I think it's pretty typical. It kind of goes back and forth," Sarkisian said. "The key for tonight is the offensive line matches the intensity of the defensive line."
The last half of the morning practice concentrated on two-minute offense, both in 7-on-7s and in full-squad formations.
Starting quarterback Jake Locker went 13-of-15 for 147 yards and two touchdowns. His scoring throws were a 10-yarder to D'Andre Goodwin and a 40-yarder to Cody Bruns.
But against the full No. 1 defense, Locker was 3-of-5 for 18 yards, and sacked once from the 20-yard line on his first drive, and 2-of-4 for 31 yards on his final march from the 35-yard line.
The offense did not score as Erik Folk missed a 22-yard field goal on the final play of practice, prompting Sarkisian to make a wisecrack about how the goalposts were too narrow.
&bull For the most part, receivers have been sharp catching the ball in fall camp. Devin Aguilar and Jordan Polk made great receptions Saturday morning, and their efforts have not escaped Sarkisian's attention.
"With the addition of James Johnson, the progression of Jermaine Kearse, Jordan Polk, Devin Aguilar, those guys have stepped their game up and improved since spring, and into fall camp," Sarkisian said. "We need to continue to push De'Andre to get him back going, believing that he's healthy and playing at full speed."
&bull Defensive end Everette Thompson (ankle) missed practice, and cornerback Justin Glenn (hip flexor) worked out early before he came up lame.
&bull New assistant strength-and-conditioning coach Marques Tuiasosopo threw out the first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game Friday night, to which he remarked, "in 2001, I hit the dirt. Last night, I almost hit the dirt."