Following are whispers that we've been hearing recently from around the NFC:
• Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware has a theory on why LOLB Anthony Spencer struggled last season, coming off a breakout 2009 campaign. "It's all about focus," Ware told PFW. "He has the athleticism. He is a really good player, and I think he's going to be back to where he needs to be this season."
• Lions DT Ndamukong Suh told PFW that getting DE Kyle Vanden Bosch back healthy from neck surgery is crucial for the team. "Very important," Suh said. "I think he brings a great edge rush and brings a lot of fire. I'm not saying anything (bad about) the guys who filled in for him because obviously we won four straight games without (Vanden Bosch), but I think having him back will be huge for us. Being able to have the guys that we do in that locker room and on that defensive line is big."
• With a real potential crowd developing at inside linebacker for the Packers next season, including the likes of Desmond Bishop, Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and Brandon Chillar, ILB coach Winston Moss sized up the situation for PFW at the Super Bowl. "I kind of anticipate putting some boxing gloves on those guys, letting them get into a ring and letting them have one of those battle royales where they knock each other around," Moss said. "The two guys that are still standing, those are my starters."
• The Panthers were criticized for not putting the franchise tag on DE Julius Peppers last offseason. Some considered it a blunder to let him go without getting any compensation in return, and they may be tempted to use the tag this year to keep one of their top free agents from bolting. RB DeAngelo Williams is considered to be a top candidate for the tag.
• Sources expect the Buccaneers to pursue a tight end in free agency or the draft this offseason. Tampa Bay's No. 2 tight end, John Gilmore, is due to become an unrestricted free agent. He's 31 and doesn't contribute much as a receiver.
• Taking into account how marginal the Rams' run blocking was inside the red zone, we hear the odds are well below 50-50 that Jacob Bell and Adam Goldberg will remain the team's starting guards next season. "They're both finesse guys, and I'd be really surprised if they're both starting again," said one daily team observer. "There are some who think Bell, who is due to make a lot more money, could be out of the mix, but I personally feel he did a decent job and was much better than Goldberg."
• While Cardinals veteran free agent Ben Graham is far from being completely ruled out as the team's punter next season, we hear it's very likely he will be facing some spirited competition from a younger alternative. "He's 37 years old, and even though he's still good at placing punts inside the 20, he can't come up with those boomers when the need arises," said one team insider.
• There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh and his mostly new staff opted not to go to Mobile for this year's Senior Bowl. "It's so different than the way it used to be," said one veteran team insider. "It's just the latest example, I think, of (new GM) Trent (Baalke) asserting his authority and Harbaugh apparently being very willing to let him do so."
• With veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck apparently being given a reprieve in Seattle, team sources tell us linemen on both sides of the ball now share top billing as the Seahawks' major needs heading into the draft.