The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity:
• "I keep hearing about how much Brian Urlacher is playing this year. I think it's pretty simple why — look at how much better the defensive line is playing in front of him. The big question I would like to know — was it Lovie (Smith) or was it (defensive coordinator Rod) Marinelli who decided to move Julius (Peppers) to the weak side? I give them all the credit in the world — John Fox never did that in Carolina — and I think it's made a world of difference and affected the whole team. The million-dollar question is — who decided to turn Julius loose and let him go (after the quarterback) and made (Israel) Idonije the strong-side end? The Bears never did that in the past. It was a great move. I would guess it was Rod."
• "It was around 25 years ago the last time the (NFL) players when on strike. All I keep reading about is how high the NFL ratings are. The two sides need to get moving. No one wants to be responsible for cracking the golden egg. I know it's not easy, but how hard could it be to divvy up a few billion dollars? If you're an owner or a player it's still real money, and real money they stand to lose, if they don't figure it out. When you look at how the NFL is going to be affected, I don't see it affecting scouts a lot. There is still going to be a draft no matter what. College football is not going away. The job description of scouts is not going to change much. But obviously, it could dramatically change the job of coaches. There will be no OTAs or offseason coaching. What worries me the most is that (NFLPA executive director) DeMaurice Smith has so little connection to the league and history and what the game does for everyone and how big it really is. A work stoppage could really screw things up."
• "(Jaguars WR) Mike Thomas has really come on. He is so fast. He can separate so easily."
• "What's unique with the Raiders facing the Colts is that those two teams do not see each other very often, and the unfamiliarity factor always gives a game a unique twist. The Raiders have loaded up with high (draft) picks for so long that they have a very talented team. It's hard not to be, with where they are picking."
• "I marvel at what the Patriots are doing. I can't remember the last time (Bill) Belichick had a play-call sheet in his hand. The fact that he is that involved is obviously a good thing — he's the best (defensive) coordinator in the league when he wants to run it. And you've got one of the all-time best quarterbacks on the other side (of the ball). It's not difficult to figure out why that operation is humming."
• "There's no doubt (Dolphins OLB) Cameron Wake can rush the passer — you can see it in his sack numbers — but he still can't play the run."
• "I don't know if there is such a thing as a shutdown corner in this league anymore. With the way the passing game has grown, I think those days are in the past."
• "If you take a look at (Packers OLB) Clay Matthews late in the season, he's not playing as well as he did early on. (49ers rookie ORT) Anthony Davis wore him out. Matthews was shutting it down by the end of the game. … The Patriots handled him well. He can rush the passer — don't get me wrong - (but) I still think he has a ways to go before you can talk about him with the great ones."
• "If you are smart, you can play for (Saints defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams. His defense is predicated on being at the right spot at the right time. If you are a technically sound football player, you can thrive in his defense."
• "When you look at Carolina's roster, it is strong. They have three running backs. How many teams can say that? Their receivers are young. The line has not been healthy — missing (starting ORT) Jeff Otah really hurt them this year — but they have a lot of talent across the board. The owner does not meddle. There is not a lot of pressure. That will be an attractive job."