Here are some of the whispers that we've heard recently from around the NFC South:
• Buccaneers WR Arrelious Benn's rookie season came to end after Week 16, when he was placed on injured reserve with a torn left ACL, but the Bucs are optimistic about his outlook for 2011 and beyond. A team observer said he narrowed the gap between him and fellow rookie WR Mike Williams by a significant amount in the last couple of months. Williams made an impact and earned a starting spot before Benn did, even though Benn was selected two rounds earlier in the draft. With Benn and Williams, Tampa Bay has one of the more promising young receiving tandems in the league.
• The list of disappointments for the Falcons is short this season, but WR Harry Douglas' lack of production has been one of them, we hear. He's been held to one catch or fewer in eight of the last nine games and has scored only one touchdown. Douglas isn't making the big plays Atlanta hoped he would when he returned from the ACL tear that sidelined him for the entire '09 season.
• Mastering the Panthers' offense and executing it on the field have not been the only areas of the game in which Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen has struggled during his rookie season. Gaining the respect and trust of his teammates has been a battle, too. A source said teammates haven't shied away from barking back at Clausen when he barks at them.
• The Saints are usually one of the best offenses in the league when it comes to beating the blitz with a quick-thinking and accurate quarterback in Drew Brees, but teams have had success in knocking the offense out of rhythm by blitzing recently. Head coach Sean Payton recently singled out the team's blitz pickup as an area in which the team must improve.