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NFC Whispers

Redskins' Moss may be fielding more punts

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By PFW staff

Here are some of the whispers we are hearing related to NFC teams:

• Could Redskins WR Santana Moss return more punts? There is talk of bringing in another veteran receiver (Terrell Owens has been mentioned), and Moss is likely to spend more time in the slot anyway if Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly continue to develop. But could Moss be asked to return more punts? The team has no defined candidate for the spot, and he has shown he can be dangerous there, even if it isn't his preference.

• The drafting of ILB Sean Lee seems to indicate that the Cowboys are concerned about the health of Stephen Hodge, a sixth-round pick last year. He's coming off microfracture surgery on his left knee and probably won't work much this offseason, so he'll be a few steps behind when the team reports to training camp.

• The Eagles had a busy draft weekend and probably won't make a lot of personnel noise until training camp. But they could keep an eye open for a free-agent cornerback if the right one with man-cover skills and special-teams ability is available. The team drafted Trevard Lindley, and Andy Reid said second-rounder Nate Allen could factor in there, but if the team doesn't sign a veteran at the position, Macho Harris — a safety last season — could be shifted back to corner, his college position.

• Don't rule out a rotation at middle linebacker for the Giants. Jonathan Goff, Chase Blackburn and Gerris Wilkinson could battle with rookie Phillip Dillard to fill the spot, and new coordinator Perry Fewell could find a role for more than one of them that plays to their individual skills.

• There were reports that the Lions were set to trade DE Cliff Avril over draft weekend, which proved to be false. But in checking with our sources, we hear that the team is actually very excited about Avril's progress and his attitude this offseason. He'll have competition at end with the signing of free agent Kyle Vanden Bosch and the re-signing of Jared DeVries, who was injured all of last season. But there's a good chance that Avril will be given a chance to rush the passer next season.

• While our Bears insiders don't know when the team plans on announcing it, we continue to hear that it's only a matter of time before former Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell officially becomes Bears GM Jerry Angelo's new right-hand man at Halas Hall.

• One thing Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is happy about regarding the team's 2010 schedule is the fact the team will be playing 15 of 16 games on Sunday. "I like that," McCarthy said. "I think it's human nature when you have an opportunity to get on a time clock, it definitely helps you. We feel like we do a good job with our regimen here. People are about routines, and to be in a seven-day routine and stacking wins is the key. It gives you an opportunity to really get some momentum going." 

• RFA ORG Jahri Evans has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender and is staying away from the Saints' voluntary offseason workout program, but his relationship with the team hasn't soured. The Saints and Evans' agent have reportedly held productive discussions about signing Evans to a long-term deal, and signing the tender could slow down the momentum in the negotiations.

• The Panthers protected themselves from having another team send an offer sheet to RFA WLB Thomas Davis when they tendered him at the highest level. We're told the team still wants to sign him to a long-term contract, although the two sides don't appear to be close to a deal. Davis, who has yet to sign his tender, is coming off a torn ACL, and Carolina could wait until he proves he's the same player he was prior to the injury before it gets serious about a long-term offer.

• Is NT Bryan Robinson suddenly out of the mix in the desert following the Cardinals' selection of Tennessee's Dan Williams in the first round of the draft? Robinson is an unrestricted free agent who, according to most team insiders, had shaped up as the best alternative to start at nose tackle prior to the draft. "I think it depends on if he still wants to play, going into his 14th year," Cardinals DE Calais Campbell told PFW. "He definitely would help us because he's just so knowledgeable." As for Gabe Watson, who backed up Robinson in 2009, we hear he has lost about 30 pounds from the end of last season and is hoping to play at around 315-320 pounds in 2010.

• Unlike fellow high-priced Seahawks veteran Deon Grant, who was released in mid-March, team insiders believe WR Deion Branch, who has been a disappointment for the most part in Seattle up to now, might have been given a new lease on life under new head coach Pete Carroll. Said one source: "Pete really seems to like Deion and thinks he could fit in well with the offense he has in mind."

• We hear the Niners are hoping that second-year pro Ricky Jean-Francois can fill the bill as the backup nose tackle behind Aubrayo Franklin. As is the case with Franklin, who tips the scales at 315 pounds, Jean-Francois is very undersized, weighing a scant 295. But word is the team really likes his potential.

• Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo on the health of 2009 No. 1 pick OT Jason Smith, who missed the last six games in '09 with concussion issues: "He's in here working, and we're good to go. He's been cleared by the doctors."

AFC Whispers


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