Following are some whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC:
• We hear Cardinals DTs Dan Williams and Nick Eason appear to be in much better shape than they were a year ago at this time. Williams, who has been somewhat of a disappointment up to now, has spent the past six weeks working regularly with Cardinals strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott, and our sources on the scene tell us the 2010 first-round pick appears to be in a much better state, both physically and mentally. Eason, meanwhile, says he feels likes a new man after dropping nearly 40 pounds and getting his weight down into the low 280s.
• With 2011 starting QB Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent addition Matt Flynn and third-round rookie Russell Wilson getting an equal number of reps in early Seahawks offseason workouts, team sources tell us it’s way too early to know if anybody might have a leg up in the team’s QB competition. In the first OTA open to the media, though, Flynn did the best job, by far, of the three in terms of withstanding pressure and avoiding turnovers.
• The news is encouraging on Seahawks OT James Carpenter and OG John Moffitt, both of whom are on the mend from season-ending injuries that cut short their rookie seasons. Although Moffitt has returned to working out with the first unit at right guard, 2011 first-rounder Carpenter, who suffered a more serious knee injury, has just begun running but appears to be making steady progress.
• We hear a 49ers WR corps fortified by the additions of free agents Randy Moss and Mario Manningham and first-round rookie A.J. Jenkins might have a couple of other intriguing sleepers in undrafted rookies Chris Owusu and Nathan Palmer. “Owusu has looked fantastic,” one team source said of the former Stanford wideout, who might have been a high draft pick if not for repeated concussion issues. “In one agility drill, he looked much quicker in and out of his breaks than Jenkins. But there are a lot of Stanford observers who believe he could be one of these guys who looks a lot better in shorts than in games.”
• Rams QB Sam Bradford likes what he has seen of rookie WRs Chris Givens and Brian Quick. “Givens, first of all, is extremely fast,” Bradford said after a recent OTA session. “I think he’s a guy that defenses are going to have to be extremely aware of. If they fall asleep on him for a half-second at all, he’s going to be by them. I think that’s nice to have, just that added speed. Then Quick, I was working with him a little bit after practice today, and it’s just extremely impressive watching him move. As big as he is, as tall as he is, he gets in and out of breaks really well. He’s fast as well. It’s exciting to have those two guys here. We’ve just got to keep pushing them, try to get them ready to go.”
• With Matt Forté staying away from OTAs, free-agent addition Michael Bush is getting all the first-team reps at running back during Bears OTAs and is getting to know QB Jay Cutler. As for his first impression of his new teammate, Bush said Cutler is “quiet.” “In the huddle, though, he’s different,” Bush said earlier this week after a practice session. “His personality and all that stuff comes out. He jokes a lot in the huddle. … I’m pretty sure he’ll open up a little more as the year goes (by).”
• After playing in Gregg Williams’ defense for the first three seasons of his career, FS Malcolm Jenkins discussed the difference in personality between Williams and his new coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, at Saints OTAs earlier this week. “It’s definitely different,” Jenkins said. “It’s a lot quieter and there’s a lot more teaching and other stuff going on. Spags still has a way — and we were talking about it earlier — there’s not a lot of cursing or anything like that, but he has a way of letting you know when he’s serious and when he’s disappointed. It gets across. I think the veterans know what he expects of us, and we know what we expect of ourselves.”
- Matt Flynn