Here are several whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC North:
• Our Packers sources tell us veteran ORT Mark Tauscher was recently placed on injured reserve even though team doctors had indicated the shoulder injury that had sidelined him since Week Five had improved enough to probably enable him to resume playing. We hear the odds are looking pretty slim that Tauscher will be back with the team next season.
• For the first time as head coach in Detroit, Jim Schwartz is starting to feel a little heat. Most in question has been his game-management skills, particularly in the late losses to the Jets and Bills, in which critical coaching decisions backfired on him. Our sources around the team indicate that there are no plans whatsoever to fire Schwartz or move in another direction. But he might be encouraged to play the odds more often instead of taking risks as observers say he sometimes outsmarts himself.
• Vikings RB Toby Gerhart has seen his snaps increase over the past several games, and it appears that he has earned himself a permanent role of sorts. Although his play has been uneven as a rookie, Gerhart has shown some flashes and has given Adrian Peterson some needed and deserved rest. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings can find ways of using both backs on the field simultaneously, something that hasn't happened much at all to date.