Following are several whispers we've heard recently from around the NFC North:
• If RB Kevin Smith cannot prove he's capable as a power-back complement to Jahvid Best, the Lions could turn to third-year FB Jerome Felton for some of their inside running duties. Felton lacks creativity, but he's a better runner than most fullbacks and relishes opportunities to handle the ball. He has good leg drive and could be a four- to seven-carry-a-game back at some point this season.
• There is a little quiet concern about TE Visanthe Shiancoe's hamstring, which might not have allowed him to play if the Vikings were not on bye in Week Four. It could be one of those season-long nagging injuries, though the team is hopeful it can get him back on the field in Week Five against the Jets.
• While the Packers' special teams reverted to the ghastly form they showed most of the time last season in Green Bay's Week Three loss to the Bears, we hear special-teams coordinator Shawn Slocum is in no immediate danger of getting a quick hook. Slocum's unit looked greatly improved in the Packers' first two games, and the consensus is that a lot of late-breaking injuries to key members of the unit may have had a lot to do with its poor prime-time showing in Chicago.
• The Bears showed just how confident they are in rookie J'Marcus Webb, playing him ahead of veteran Kevin Shaffer at times at right tackle vs. the Packers on Monday night. The seventh-round pick can play on either side of the line and could continue rotating in as offensive line coach Mike Tice prepares him for the greater role he could take on at some point.