Here are several whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC West:
• We're told one Rams player who hasn't been given enough credit for the team's greatly improved defense is starting DRT Gary Gibson, a big-time grinder who just keeps plugging away. "He's just a real pest," said one team insider of the fifth-year pro. "He gets overpowered at times and doesn't really show up on the stat sheet, but he's consistently disruptive. And it's helped that he's stayed healthy this year."
• With their QB situation leaving so much to be desired, could the Cardinals consider giving rookie third-stringer John Skelton a shot at the starting job? "I don't see it, unless they are totally out of it in the final month," said one team insider. "The coaches feel he's just not ready; (Max) Hall is far ahead of him mentally. Skelton is a smart guy with good physical tools, but they feel he's still a year or two away."
• Our Niners sources tell us one position on defense where new blood might really come into play the second half of the season is cornerback, with starters Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements both having their share of struggles the first eight games. "One guy, in particular, to keep an eye on is (2010 seventh-round draft pick) Phillip Adams," said one team insider.
• Making matters worse for a Seattle defensive line that has lost DE Red Bryant for the season is the ankle injury currently hindering Colin Cole. Team insiders tell us the Seahawks' starting right tackle could miss a couple of games, and possibly more, with a "serious sprain," according to head coach Pete Carroll.