We've been hearing the following whispers around the NFC:
• Although the Cardinals are doing their best to downplay it, we hear they remain more than a little concerned about the back problems that continue to bother starting ILB Gerald Hayes. "He's been bugged by the back since last December, and it's still not healthy after cortisone injections, so it has to be a concern, especially with the lack of depth at the position" one team insider said. "Both backups, Reggie Walker and veteran Monty Beisel, are long-term downgrades."
• Tony Romo earned some points with his Cowboys teammates, we hear, when he attended voluntary OTAs instead of chasing his golf passion. As much as the players would have understood Romo doing what he wanted on his de facto free time, the decision to come to camp is just another example of Romo growing as a player and leader, which has been noticeable over the past year.
• The Vikings got a look at sixth-rounder Joe Webb, a college quarterback supposed to be converting to wide receiver, throwing the ball in a May minicamp. They liked what they saw — so much so that head coach Brad Childress, who said Webb has the capacity to play QB in the NFL, is giving Webb a shot to remain at his college position in the pros. The athletic Webb, for what it's worth, said he compares his QB game to the Titans' Vince Young.
• We hear the Bears' recent additions of Major Wright and veteran Chris Harris via the draft and an offseason trade, respectively, might have put veteran S Josh Bullocks' roster spot in danger.
• Our Packers sources tell us the odds are strong that at least one of the three undrafted college defensive linemen that the team is hoping to convert to outside linebacker — Tim Knicky of Stephen F. Austin, John Russell of Wake Forest and Frank Zombo of Central Michigan — has a good shot at making the final roster.
• Two Saints receivers — Devery Henderson (sports hernia) and Robert Meachem (toe) — are expected to miss most, if not all, of the team's OTAs and minicamps as they recover from surgeries, which should give backup WRs Lance Moore and Adrian Arrington, among others, a chance to get more reps. While their surgeries are a bit of a concern, Henderson and Meachem are both expected to be ready to participate by the time training camp gets under way.
• It appears the Panthers have slotted fourth-round pick Eric Norwood for a hybrid DE-LB role for now until he carves out a more defined niche at one of the two positions. He's a bit undersized for an end, but Carolina likes his pass-rush ability off the edge and is hoping he can make an impact in a situational role.
• While there's no denying the special focus these days on Cardinals second-round draft pick Daryl Washington, the hopeful heir apparent to the departed Karlos Dansby, we hear there's also a fair amount of interest in the team's other Washington — second-year OLB Mark Washington. "He's a very intriguing guy," one daily team observer said of the practice-squad pickup from late last season. "He has looked really impressive in practice, and everybody is anxious to see him in pads."
• Our sources in Seattle would not be shocked if the team decided to cut the cord with starting OLB Leroy Hill, whose future appears to be in limbo in the wake of a misdemeanor assault charge for his role in a domestic dispute. Hill's most recent legal problems came only 10 days after he received a sentence of 12 months' probation for misdemeanor drug possession as a result of a Jan. 24, 2009, incident in which he was found asleep at the wheel by police in suburban Atlanta and had marijuana in his car. "The team is waiting for a league ruling (on Hill), but they have been getting by OK without him with (David) Hawthorne and (Will) Herring," one source said. "When you really look at it, up to now Hill's whole career has been potential. He made 7½ sacks as a rookie but has made no real impact since then."
• Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo on how he plans to divide the first-team reps at quarterback: "Right now A.J. Feeley is getting them all, and then Sam (Bradford) and Keith (Null) kind of mix in with the 2s and 3s (second and third units), and that won't change until … somewhere in there, we'll give both Sam and Keith some reps with the first group just to get them used to it. But right now, all the reps are evenly split. It's not like the 1s are getting more than the 2s or 3s."
• We hear a sleeper Rams receiver worth monitoring is undrafted rookie Dominique Curry, who has excellent size (6-2, 224) and made a strong impression catching everything in sight at the team's rookie minicamp.
• 49ers head coach Mike Singletary admits to having been in contact with unsigned Rams RFA S O.J. Atogwe but added that he has not talked to Atogwe about specifically joining the Niners. "I think right now we are just leaving those things where they are," said Singletary. "Yes, I do know O.J., but it's not one of those things where we talk about it, no. We're developing our team, and he has his team. If that changes, then we'll look at that at the appropriate time. Right now it's just not something that we're thinking about."
• Word is there's a good chance Niners OL David Baas, who is expected to be replaced as the starter at left guard by first-round draft pick Mike Iupati, could end up grabbing the backup center job behind Eric Heitmann from Cody Wallace, who could have trouble making the final roster.
Related link: AFC Whispers
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.