Following are several whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC South:
• Of all the key Panthers players in the final year of their contracts, a source familiar with the inner workings of the team said CB Richard Marshall is most likely to leave after the season, assuming the requirement for unrestricted free agency reverts to four years. Marshall, who has started 23 consecutive games, stayed away from a minicamp and some OTAs in the offseason and was hoping to get a long-term deal done before he signed his one-year restricted free-agent tender.
• Falcons DE John Abraham already has more sacks (six) than he had all of last season (5½), and the 32-year-old is showing he has plenty left in the tank when it comes to rushing the passer. He hasn't been nearly as effective vs. the run, however.
• Buccaneers WR Arrelious Benn hasn't made the immediate impact the team was hoping he would provide when it drafted him in the second round this year. We hear the Bucs are comfortable with his knowledge of the offense and are looking for ways to allow him to showcase his deceptive speed. One team observer expects QB Josh Freeman to take more deep shots downfield in Benn's direction in the coming weeks.
• Some observers are wondering if the Saints would be better off moving Jo-Lonn Dunbar ahead of Scott Shanle on the depth chart at weak-side linebacker, but we hear Shanle is not in danger of losing his job. Shanle returned from a hamstring injury in Week Eight after missing two games.