Observations from Georgia Tech’s eighth practice

After a Saturday-morning scrimmage, Georgia Tech returned to the practice field Monday morning in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts in a slight reprieve from full-contact work.

The Yellow Jackets’ eighth practice of the preseason started their second full week of practice. Coach Geoff Collins said the week will be physical and competitive, and it could identify which players will see the bulk of playing time and which ones will start the season with the scout team.

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Observations from the portion of practice open to media:

1. Freshman wide receiver D.J. Moore continued his bid for playing time this fall with a strong showing in a red-zone one-on-one passing drill early on in the practice.

In a fast-moving drill in which the line of scrimmage was set at the 5-yard line, receivers and tight ends lined up against cornerbacks and safeties and tried to get open for passes.

Moore distinguished himself by getting free for catches in the end zone, using his quickness and route-running skill to get away from cornerback Kenan Johnson on one repetition and then cornerback Myles Sims on the next.

Regarding an oft-asked question of the preseason – which freshmen will play and not be redshirted? – Moore is a leading candidate to contribute on the field this season.

2. Safety Jalen Huff and cornerback Kenny Bennett distinguished themselves in the same drill on the defensive side, both denying catches in both of their repetitions.

Huff’s turns came against walk-on tight end Stone Bonner and wide receiver Jamal Haynes. Bennett took on two tough assignments – Malik Rutherford and E.J. Jenkins – and produced pass breakups on each.

Huff played sparingly last season but was singled out last week by defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker as someone who was “starting to create some noise in the depth chart.” Bennett, a transfer from Maryland with one year of eligibility, is competing for playing time at nickel back.

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3. As he has throughout the preseason, offensive line coach Brent Key mixed up combinations with the first and second units. As noted by Key, the tackles have included Jordan Williams, Jakiah Leftwich, Wing Green and Corey Robinson. Guards have included Paula Vaipulu, Paul Tchio, Pierce Quick, R.J. Adams and walk-on Joe Fusile. The centers have mostly been Weston Franklin and Brandon Best.

“It’s not always rolling guys to see who’s going to be that first five guys out there or what position they’re going to be in,” Key said. “A lot of times, it’s within practice, trying to see who plays well next to each other and also getting guys experience playing next to each other.”