We've been hearing the following whispers around the AFC:
• Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently said that the team was working on a new contract for Pro Bowl OLG Logan Mankins and hoped Mankins would "be with us for the long term." But don't get your hopes up for a quick resolution. Mankins' camp has let word out that the two sides are nowhere close to a new deal, and the recent extension for Saints OG Jahri Evans that was in excess of $56 million is sure to make the negotiations even more difficult.
• While it was believed that the Dolphins would have three players battling to become their starting free safety, it appears that only Chris Clemons and rookie Reshad Jones are in the running. Tyrone Culver, who was expected to get a chance to start, is now penciled in as the backup at strong safety behind Yeremiah Bell. Clemons took reps at free safety with the first-team defense at Miami's recent OTAs.
• WR Laveranues Coles is still a free agent, and the Jets, who reportedly have been in contact with his agent, remain a potential destination for him. The team will be without WR Santonio Holmes for the first four weeks of the regular season while Holmes serves a suspension, and it could use a serviceable veteran like Coles to bolster depth at the position.
• Sources in Buffalo tell us that the Bills are likely to take a hit in season-ticket sales this season. After selling more than 55,000 season tickets in 2009 and selling out all seven regular-season games at Ralph Wilson Stadium, we hear the team is making a hard push to customers in order to get rid of its many remaining season tickets. Despite not making the playoffs for the past 10 seasons, the Bills have continually ranked among the league's top franchises in attendance.
• Observers on the scene at the open portion of the Colts' minicamp said there was no denying that the biggest scene stealers were SS Bob Sanders, WR Anthony Gonzalez and PK Adam Vinatieri, all of whom actively participated and looked fully recovered from the injuries that sidelined them last season. Gonzalez told one team source that he was "99 percent" recovered from the Week One knee injury that ended his 2009 campaign.
• Although they wouldn't admit it, we hear the Chiefs were surprised at the number of players who showed up for their voluntary OTAs in May. Everyone but unsigned RFA Jarrad Page was present, including veterans known for skipping these activities to work out on their own, like Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters. The high participation number could indicate that players are buying into Todd Haley's system and are eager to get a jump on preparing for the 2010 season.
• Steelers DE Aaron Smith has recovered well from a shoulder injury that limited him to only five games last season, teammate Ziggy Hood recently told PFW. "He looks great," Hood said. "It looks like he hasn't missed a step or a beat. I like what I see." Smith, 34, notched 60 tackles and 5½ sacks and defended four passes in 2008, his last full season.
• In a recent interview with PFW, Browns NT Ahtyba Rubin said that at the end of last season, when the club had its greatest success, the team embraced head coach Eric Mangini's philosophy, and Rubin has seen more of the same at the beginning of organized team activities. "Guys are flying around," Rubin said during the club's first OTA. "They still have that same mentality — be tough, be smart."
Related link: NFC Whispers
For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.