Air Force fullback Taven Birdow, left, and quarterback Isaiah Sanders work in practice Aug. 20 in Colorado Springs.

Cornerback Zane Lewis was back with the starters on defense for Air Force, one of several shake-ups as the opener rapidly approaches.

Lewis, a starter throughout last season, has largely played behind Elisha Palm and James Jones IV during fall camp.

“I’m glad there’s competition,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely made us better.”

Air Force hosts Colgate in the season opener Aug. 31.

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At other positions, no more clarity was provided at quarterback as Isaiah Sanders and Donald Hammond III took first-team snaps at times Tuesday. On defense, linebacker Kyle Johnson (wrist) and defensive lineman Jared Bair (right foot/ankle) missed practice, with Nathan King and Kaleb Nunez sliding into their spots.

Coach Troy Calhoun said Chris Musselman, Price Morgan, Noah Bush and Grant Young would also be considered for the linebacker spot if Johnson misses time.

As for Nunez, Calhoun described the 6-foot-1, 270-pound junior as “productive, strong. He has very good pad level. He’s energetic. Likes to work; likes to play.”

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Geraud Sanders was the No. 1 wide receiver and Ben Peterson the No. 1 slot receiver on Tuesday as two of the top challengers for those positions — sophomores David Cormier and Brandon Lewis — oddly spent time on the scout team.

Calhoun did not offer an explanation as to why Cormier and Lewis weren’t working with the varsity.

“Got to earn a spot. Every day you earn a spot,” he said. “That’s the way we work. You earn it here. Everything matters and you’ve got to earn a spot. That’s just the way we work.”

For Lewis, the promotion back to the first team came as something of a surprise. He didn’t participate in Saturday’s scrimmage, so it’s not as if that served as a springboard.

Tre’ Bugg continues to have the other cornerback position locked down, while Lewis has split first-team reps with three others throughout August.

“It’s hypercompetitive,” defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach John Rudzinski said. “We’ve got four guys fighting for those two spots. What we’re going to do is come back and watch film today. Last day of pure camp. Then we’ll transition forward.

“They’ve all been practicing well and competing well.”

Lewis, the lone senior in the group, started the final 11 games last season. He returned an interception against Nevada a school-record 99 yards for a touchdown.

“I definitely feel great,” Lewis said. “This should definitely be my best season and an improvement from last season.”

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