Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC:
• Word is the Seahawks are cautiously optimistic that second-year OLT Russell Okung will be able to start the regular-season opener after suffering what initially appeared to be another serious left ankle injury in practice. "He's better than they first expected," one daily team observer said. "This injury was just a pop on a plant-and-move, while both his ankle injuries last year involved heavy contact. He should be ready for the opener, but they will be very cautious the rest of the preseason."
• We hear the Seahawks are becoming increasingly concerned over the labrum injury currently keeping TE John Carlson sidelined.
• Mackenzy Bernadeau is running with the Panthers' first-team offense at right guard in place of the injured Geoff Schwartz (hip). Bernadeau has made 19 starts over the past two seasons and is a capable player. The coaching staff is comfortable with him, but we're told the team still views Schwartz as the starter at right guard and would like to see Bernadeau back up at right guard and center behind Ryan Kalil. The Panthers are hoping their starting five on the O-line will be healthy enough to play in the third preseason game, as ORT Jeff Otah (knee) also has missed time with an injury.
• Falcons DRE John Abraham told PFW he likes what he has seen from new teammate DE Ray Edwards, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery and has had limited participation in practices thus far. "(Edwards) has all the potential to be a great pass rusher," Abraham said. "Watching him in practice, the little reps he's had, because he's coming off a minor injury, he definitely has the mindset and the physical attributes to be a great pass rusher. I'm just glad to have him here with me and I don't have to worry about (us) going against him anymore." Edwards is expected to start opposite Abraham at left end.
• The Redskins are taking a long, hard look at rookie DE Jarvis Jenkins in their DL rotation. They believe he can play multiple techniques and might be able to start before long. So far, Jenkins has impressed with his athleticism.
• Don't be surprised if as many as five Packers tight ends — holdovers Jermichael Finley, Tom Crabtree and Andrew Quarless and rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor — make the 53-man roster. We hear Taylor in particular is making a strong impression.
• Two Packers holdovers who look to be squarely on the bubble are LB Brad Jones, who was the starter at right outside linebacker entering last season, and former second-round CB Pat Lee, who appears to have fallen behind up-and-coming Josh Gordy.
• It probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise, that, in the aftermath of the 49ers' extremely ugly preseason-opening loss to the Saints in which neither Alex Smith nor Colin Kaepernick distinguished himself at quarterback, whispers started cropping up in the Bay Area that the team might intentionally go in the tank this season with its sights set directly on Stanford QB Andrew Luck, who excelled under Jim Harbaugh, in the 2012 draft. But the way we hear it, if anybody truly shapes up as the Niners' QB of the future, it's Kaepernick, who continues to draw extremely positive reviews from Harbaugh and the coaching staff.
• Another intriguing 49ers rumor that recently made its way through the team's locker room is that the Bears recently made a trade offer for beleaguered second-year S Taylor Mays, which the Niners quickly declined.
• We hear 49ers DL Isaac Sopoaga, who is back at his original NT spot replacing the departed Aubrayo Franklin after starting at left end last season, has been displaying a real nasty streak in practices, getting into some spirited scuffles that sources on the scene found hard to ignore.
• With Rams second-year CB Jerome Murphy possibly being out for the season after breaking his ankle early in training camp, it looks for the time being like fourth-year pro Justin King has a leg up on veteran free-agent addition Al Harris for the team's nickel corner job. "It's going to be one or the other, but with Harris tweaking his knee early on, it's King for now," one team insider said. "King has been good in that role, but he has had problems staying healthy."
• After missing a week or so with a hamstring injury, we hear Rams fourth-round WR Greg Salas could have his work cut out for him surviving the final roster cutdown unless he starts making up for lost time in the remaining preseason games.
• Does Rams offensive workhorse Steven Jackson believe he could be on the cusp of a monster season? "I do," Jackson said. "I'm very excited as to where we are going as an offense. I'm very excited about what (offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels brings to our ability, especially in the red zone. … I'm anticipating a big year not only for myself but the team as well."