Following are several whispers that we've heard recently from around the NFC East:
• Teams, for the most part, have avoided Eagles CB Asante Samuel's side of the field in the passing game, more so than in the past few years. But the reason for that has as much to do with the coverage leakage at the other spots in the secondary as it has to do with Samuel's mostly strong play. Until new starter Dimitri Patterson proves himself over a longer stretch at right cornerback, he will continue to be one of the primary targets of opposing offenses.
• The Redskins have tried their best to deflect the negative attention away from QB Donovan McNabb since head coach Mike Shanahan benched him late against the Lions and had to endure the ensuing fallout from the explanation why. One way they attempted to do it was with McNabb's new contract, the timing of which clearly was orchestrated as a P.R. move. Another way was by throwing WR Joey Galloway under the bus, with the team claiming the receiver was responsible for one of McNabb's interceptions in Week 10, thereby taking the blame away from McNabb. There's only so much the Redskins can do to try to defuse the situation with their QB and try to smooth the waters without people catching on.
• It should be noted that Cowboys folk hero CB Bryan McCann, who ran back a 101-yard interception in the win over the Giants in what has become the team's signature play of a poor season, still needs some major work before he can vie for a starting spot. Although the team is frustrated with CB Mike Jenkins, who has regressed, McCann has allowed a high percentage of passes to be completed in his direction and may need a lot more technique work before he's fully ready.
• The season-ending injury to Giants WR Ramses Barden came right when it appeared he would be on the verge of getting more snaps in games. He was starting to display some of the skills the team thought he had when it made him a third-round pick, and the injury to Steve Smith had opened the door. But the Giants still think there's a role for Barden next season after he rehabs from his ankle injury.