In an offense that features two of college football's best wide receivers, USC tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer don't get many opportunities to look spectacular.
Both, however, have been instrumental in the second-ranked Trojans' 2-0 start.
"They may not be the plays that you see all the time on the highlights or anything like that," Grimble said, "but we definitely play our role."
Grimble, 6 feet 5 and 255 pounds, received attention after last week's performance against Syracuse. Grimble caught a fourth-quarter pass from quarterback Matt Barkley then shed four tacklers on his way to a 22-yard touchdown.
Grimble has three catches for 60 yards. The 6-4, 255-pound Telfer has blocked well and has one reception for 11 yards.
Both are looking forward to Saturday's game against No. 21 Stanford at Stanford Stadium.
"I think they'll eventually be first-day, first-round picks, or right there," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday. "Obviously, they have to continue to develop, but they have the potential to do that."
Last season, Telfer caught 26 passes, five for touchdowns. One came in the second overtime of USC's 56-48 triple-overtime loss to Stanford.
Grimble had 15 catches, four for touchdowns.
Stanford features formidable tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo.
The 6-6, 252-pound Ertz has six catches for 75 yards. Toilolo, 6-8 and 265 pounds, has four receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Toilolo caught five passes against the Trojans last season, including one for a touchdown in the second overtime.
"They're going to split them out and make you cover them," Kiffin said. "They do a really good job with that. They got us last year on one and I'm sure they'll try again."
Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey, who intercepted two passes against Syracuse, is looking forward to another test against the Cardinal's tight ends.
Bailey, a 6-foot, 210-pound converted safety, also must help stop the Cardinal's rushing attack.
"That's one of the big question marks about me as a player," he said. "Can I play in a physical run game with the SEC teams and things like that?"
Bailey said he would use quickness to neutralize Cardinal tight ends and offensive linemen, who might outweigh him by 100 pounds.
"Being quick," he said, "definitely comes in handy in a game like this."
Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game of the 2011 season, returned last week against Duke after sitting out the opener against San Jose State because of a suspension for an off-season DUI arrest.
Skov made five tackles and broke up a pass in Stanford's 50-13 victory.
"Another veteran player that makes a lot of plays," Kiffin said.
USC is 5-9 against ranked Stanford teams…. Kiffin apologized for banning a reporter who reported that kicker Andre Heidari had undergone knee surgery. Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News was reinstated after editors from The Times, Orange County Register and Daily News spoke with USC Athletic Director Pat Haden on Wednesday. Kiffin said USC officials were working with the editors to formulate an agreement on what can be reported from in-season practices.