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NFC Whispers

Martz may adapt, utilize Bears' tight ends

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By PFW staff

• As a rule, new Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz has used tight ends primarily as blockers, which is why he and Niners TE Vernon Davis were like oil and water, according to our Niners sources. But the early vibe emanating out of Halas Hall is that Martz has a different role in mind for the Bears' Greg Olsen, who he realizes is most effective as a receiving tight end with legitimate stretch-the-field ability. Said one team insider: "I think Martz seems genuinely impressed with Olsen. He knows he's a different type of player than (former Rams TE) Ernie Conwell."

• Lions head coach Jim Schwartz acknowledged to PFW at the Senior Bowl that running back is a team need this offseason. Despite offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's optimism that RB Kevin Smith will be rehabbed from a knee injury and ready to go by Week One, Schwartz said the team will look for help in the backfield. It was clear that the Lions needed a partner for Smith who has a little more speed and game-breaking ability.

• Giants DE Osi Umenyiora is not backing down from his end-of-season comments about wanting to be a starter. In a radio interview, Umenyiora expressed his love for the Giants but said he is "not going to be a backup player, I can promise you that. I'll stop playing football before I do that ever again." Umenyiora hasn't spoken with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, and he said he doesn't fully blame former coordinator Bill Sheridan — despite a clear rift between the two last season — for the Giants' defensive problems in 2009.

• The Eagles made their second big coaching addition of the offseason, hiring Dick Jauron to coach the secondary and act as a senior assistant to an already impressive staff. Our sources say that one reason why Andy Reid has been successful is that he is not afraid to surround himself with successful assistants, such as Jauron and new special-teams coordinator Bobby April. Reid is not insecure to add a second former head coach to the team and believes his relatively young team will be better off for it.

• He tore his ACL in training camp last year, but we hear Falcons WR Harry Douglas is making sound progress in his recovery, and the team expects him to return to his role as a slot receiver and punt returner next season. While surveying college prospects at the Senior Bowl, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said Douglas is a weapon the team missed badly in '09.

Kurt Warner told our Cardinals sources at the Super Bowl that the team went out of its way to try to convince him to come back for the final year of his contract. Warner said head coach Ken Whisenhunt offered to greatly reduce his offseason workload and training-camp regimen if it would make a difference, which it didn't. Also seen in South Beach, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald told sources he was ready and willing to spend as much time with new starting QB Matt Leinart this offseason as Leinart wanted.

• On the Rams sale-rumor mill, we hear that, while it remains unclear as to just where the locally based group headed by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts stands in the three-group race to buy the team, it is imperative that Stan Kroenke, who currently owns 40 percent of the Rams, hangs on to his piece of the team for the Checketts group to have any real hope of winning the race.

• Regarding the "retirement party" that ProFootballTalk.com recently reported that Seahawks DE Patrick Kerney held, the word is Kerney, who is on the mend from elbow surgery, is still not 100 percent sure he is ready to throw in the towel. It appears Kerney's willingness to accept a restructured deal at what could be a significantly reduced rate could be a key factor in his final decision.

• We hear the Niners are considering some contract extensions in the near future, with pass-rush specialist Ahmad Brooks and possibly S Dashon Goldson, who just switched agents from Peter Schaffer to Drew Rosenhaus, at the top of the list.

 

PFW has launched its brand-new NFL Draft Newsletter series, with the second issue now ready for mailing and a third issue focusing on underclassmen to be published in the next few weeks. Produced by PFW's player personnel department under the direction of Nolan Nawrocki, the series consists of four information-packed issues. For more info or to subscribe — click here for PDF e-pub or here for print format. You can also find details about other draft-related publications in the PFW store.

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