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NFC Whispers

Buccaneers' Stovall likely to be demoted

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By PFW staff

Updated Aug. 31, 2010 @ 3:50 p.m. ET

Here are some of the whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC:

• An ankle injury has kept Buccaneers WR Maurice Stovall out of the past two preseason games, and it appears he will be demoted from the top spot at flanker on the depth chart. Head coach Raheem Morris said it will be tough for Stovall to win that job under the circumstances.

• Probably the most pleasant surprise in the Cardinals' training camp is undrafted rookie Stephen Williams, who appears to have moved ahead of third-round rookie Andre Roberts for the No. 4 WR job. "He's been pretty good," one team insider said of Williams. "I doubt he'll make a Marques Colston-type impact, but he's got great size (6-foot-5) and has picked up the system very quickly."

• Before he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Redskins WR Malcolm Kelly appeared to be in real trouble for a roster spot. He missed a ton of time with a hamstring injury and failed to impress Mike Shanahan, who showed in Denver he isn't above hacking a highly drafted receiver. His future in Washington doesn't appear to be very bright, despite the temporary reprieve. Who has impressed has been Anthony Armstrong, who appears smaller than his listed 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds. But Armstrong has caught the ball consistently well and has earned the trust of the coaching staff.

• The Giants are quietly concerned about their punting. Since losing directional specialist Jeff Feagles to retirement in the offseason, rookie P Matt Dodge has struggled with consistency and hasn't kicked with nearly as much accuracy as Feagles did. It could change the team's field-position strategy if they don't opt to bring in a veteran instead. Dodge's distances have been OK, but his hang time and direction have been troublesome.

• Eagles CB Dimitri Patterson has played well enough in camp and during the preseason that he appears to be a roster lock. In fact, some feel he could be pushing Joselio Hanson for the nickel job. Hanson has not been at his best this preseason.

Danny McCray has been a special-teams standout for the Cowboys and stands a decent chance of making the final roster. He has been all over the place on coverage and has stood out as a blocker on the return units. Though McCray has a way to go as a safety, he could be an instant contributor on special teams if he makes it.

• The Lions feel better about their DE depth in spite of the news that Jared DeVries will miss the entire season with a knee injury. They landed Lawrence Jackson via trade from the Seahawks, and he'll back up starters Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. With Turk McBride and intriguing rookie Willie Young, the Lions appear to have five ends they like.

• The play of rookie CB Chris Cook was one of the factors that allowed the Vikings to trade Benny Sapp, a valuable sub defender last season, to the Dolphins for WR Greg Camarillo. Cook started out playing left corner, backing up starter Antoine Winfield, but now has played both sides and figures to be on the field with a role on defense early on, although his contributions may be delayed awhile after he injured a knee in the team's third preseason game.

• Right now, Vikings rookie DE Everson Griffen is buried on the depth chart and shows he has a long way to go. Yet, he almost certainly will make the team and spend this season as a pseudo redshirt, learning how to play defensive end in the NFL.

• Two Bears players we hear could be on the trading block are RB Garrett Wolfe, who is battling Kahlil Bell for a backup job behind Matt Forté and Chester Taylor, and S Al Afalava, who has struggled more often than not so far this preseason.

• Even though he has had all kinds of problems fielding kickoffs, our Packers sources tell us undrafted rookie CB Sam Shields' kick-coverage skills and 4.28 speed are likely to enable him to beat out veteran Jarrett Bush for a roster spot.

• Observers in Charlotte say Jon Beason has made a smooth transition from middle linebacker to the weak side. The player he's replacing on the weak side, Thomas Davis, is holding out hope that he can return in December. The chances of that happening appear slim — he's recovering from his second ACL tear in seven months — but we're told Davis isn't training like a player who doesn't expect to play in 2010.

• Niners head coach Mike Singletary seems pretty sure OLB Ahmad Brooks, who is expected to be one of the defense's primary pass rushers, will be completely recovered from the lacerated kidney that ended his preseason. "I don't think so," said Singletary when asked whether he thought Brooks' injury would linger into the regular season. "I talked to our trainers, and they feel very positive about it, but we're just being smart."

• We hear the Seahawks couldn't be happier with fourth-round rookie CB Walter Thurmond, who has had a very impressive training camp despite wearing a thick brace on his right knee. "He's a comer," said one daily team observer of Thurmond, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last September in his final year at Oregon. "He made this one amazing interception in one practice, and he's very physical. He could eventually end up being the guy opposite Marcus Trufant."

• While the reaction to the approval of Stan Kroenke as the Rams' new majority owner was mostly positive, we hear there were some locals who would have preferred bidder Shahid Khan since he would have had only one team to worry about.


Related link: AFC Whispers


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