Here are some Whispers we've been hearing from our sources around the NFC:
Evan Royster lacks the speed to be anything but a situational back. Even with rookie Alfred Morris (the only healthy back) impressing in minicamps, it appears to be Hightower's starting job to lose.• Do the Redskins' coaches favor Tim Hightower as the starting running back? We hear that might be the case, even though he is coming off a torn ACL. Durability concerns might keep Roy Helu a 10-15-snap player, and
• There is no one pushing Falcons SS William Moore for his starting job, but the team wants to see him step up in training camp. Injuries sidelined Moore, a second-round pick in 2009, for all but two games in his first season and kept him out of four games last year after he had a very promising 2010 campaign. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, some inside the organization believe he has Pro Bowl potential that has yet to be tapped.
• Is Giants CB Prince Amukamara ready to ascend to the team's No. 3 CB role? He suffered through a rough rookie season, missing the first nine games with a broken foot, and so far hasn't done a whole lot this offseason despite receiving a plasma injection. Amukamara will come into camp with a lot of eyes on him early on to see if he can stay on the field and progress.
• It appears Niners QB Alex Smith has fortified his starting status in camp activities up to now, although sources on the scene tell us he has continued to struggle somewhat in red zone situations. For the most part, though, we're told Smith looked far more solid than second-year pro Colin Kaepernick, who had problems with his delivery right up until a strong turnaround effort on the final day of the team's mandatory minicamp.
• Following a season in which three undrafted players made the Packers' final 53-man roster, we hear the top candidate to follow in their footsteps could be former Tulane OLB Dezman Moses, who reportedly went out of his way to make his presence felt in the team's mandatory minicamp, saving his best efforts for the practices that were open to the media. The consensus seems to be that Moses was just as impressive as first-round rookie OLB Nick Perry.
• RB Matt Forte will have to be brought up to speed on the changes made to the Bears' offense by coordinator Mike Tice, assuming Forte signs his franchise tender or a long-term deal and doesn't sit out the entire season. Forté, who did not attend OTAs or minicamp, has said he may stay away from training camp if he's unsigned, but it doesn't sound like sitting out a full season is an option he's likely to choose. We hear those inside the organization familiar with Forté's cognitive abilities have no doubt he will quickly pick up pick up the new parts of the playbook and do not foresee that becoming an issue.
• The Cowboys still expect Mackenzy Bernadeau to be the starting left guard, even though he's coming off labrum surgery. In his place, 2011 fourth-rounder David Arkin and 2012 undrafted free agent Ronald Leary both looked good taking first-team snaps, Leary especially. It wouldn't be out of the question, we hear, that Bernadeau could instead move to center — a position he only has played in practice — to challenge Phil Costa, who was subpar last season.
• We hear the Panthers would eventually like to see David Gettis push Brandon LaFell for the No. 2 receiver job, but the job is LaFell's to lose heading into training camp. Gettis is not quite 100 percent recovered from the ACL he tore in training camp last year. We're told the coaching staff is happy with the way LaFell practiced during this offseason's non-contact drills.
Stewart Bradley replaces longtime veteran starter Paris Lenon at the Cardinals' SLB position. But that prospect appears to definitely be news to Lenon, who we hear continues to have a pretty strong hold on the starting job and is showing no signs of relinquishing the position anytime soon.
• We hear Rams OLT Rodger Saffold, who suffered a season-ending torn pectoral while lifting weights that forced him to miss the final seven games last season, is feeling better and gearing up for a strong rebound from a sophomore slump. "Not only in the weight room, but in the individual stuff, he's doing really well," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said of Saffold. "We're just holding back the contact. He's very, very close to being cleared — definitely for camp."
• Redskins undrafted CB Chase Minnifield, whose knee injury hurt his draft stock, did not look out of sorts covering the team's better receivers and appears to be getting healthier. Minnifield is not a lock to make the roster at this point by any stretch, but the team likes his developmental upside so far.
• Undrafted free-agent QB Kellen Moore, who's vying to be the Lions' No. 3 quarterback, has "grasped the offense very well," head coach Jim Schwartz said in June. Said Schwartz of the 6-0, 197-pound Moore, who starred at Boise State: "He's a guy that I think it's well-documented he doesn't have the strongest arm, he doesn't have the prototypical size, but once you get out on the field, you don't get any extra points for being 6-4." The Lions carried three quarterbacks a season ago: Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton. However, Stanton, a 2007 second-round pick, was a rather accomplished No. 3 quarterback. The Lions also reportedly have signed QB R.J. Archer, who tried out for the club during the spring, to compete for a reserve role. "He's a good athlete, he moves around pretty good and he's a pretty accurate thrower," Schwartz said in May of Archer, noting that Archer had a "live arm." Archer most recently played for the Arena Football League's Georgia Force and had a stint with the Vikings in 2010.
• It's been widely assumed for some time now that it would only be a matter of time before ex-Eagle Stewart Bradley replaces longtime veteran starter Paris Lenon at the Cardinals' SLB position. But that prospect appears to definitely be news to Lenon, who we hear continues to have a pretty strong hold on the starting job and is showing no signs of relinquishing the position anytime soon.
• Christian Ponder has not been sitting still this offseason, coming off an inconsistent rookie season in which he appeared to regress down the stretch. Ponder added 20 pounds of good weight and has attempted to take more of a leadership role. He also said that quickening his decision-making has been a big part of his offseason growth. "I think for me the biggest improvement I saw was picking up blitzes and learning how to do that and recognizing things a lot better," Ponder said. "I think the game's really slowed down in these 10 OTAs [organized team activities] and the three days of minicamp. It's really slowed down for me."
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