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NFC Whispers

Rehabbed Clayton may become Rams' No. 1 receiver

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By PFW staff

Here are the whispers we've been hearing from around the NFC:

• Assuming he's up to speed after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a knee injury, we hear it's not a stretch to consider Mark Clayton the Rams' No. 1 wideout for the Week Seven game at Dallas. "I'm real curious to see how he'll look after not practicing for a little more than a year," a team insider said of Clayton, who caught 10 passes for 119 yards in Week One last season shortly after being acquired from Baltimore. "Having the last six weeks to learn the playbook and terminology should help."

• Niners CB Carlos Rogers told PFW he is enjoying being a mentor to rookie CB Chris Culliver, who had his first career interception in the Week Five rout of Tampa Bay. "He was a safety in college, and what I like about him is how willing he is to learn his new position," Rogers said of Culliver, who has seen more action lately due to injuries to CBs Shawntae Spencer and Tramaine Brock. "I had guys who sat me down and taught me the business of the league, and I'm just doing the same thing with Chris."

• There are some Cardinals observers who believe the team might be better-served starting seventh-year pro Hamza Abdullah instead of the inconsistent Rashad Johnson at free safety in place of the injured Kerry Rhodes. "I think it would be an interesting move," said one team insider. "Abdullah is smart, has good size (6-2, 216) and is physical. It might be worth giving him a shot."

• Our sources in Seattle think reserve CB Walter Thurmond could crack the starting lineup sooner than later.

• Many Eagles fans have wondered why the team has not addressed its LB needs with free agent Lofa Tatupu, who on the surface would appear to be a nice fit in the scheme. But we hear that the Eagles have not shown much interest in him this year, and the assumption is that Tatupu's knee injury is a lingering concern. That interest, however, could change if the linebackers do not improve.

• Redskins DE Adam Carriker is playing well, especially against the pass. He's not known as a pass rusher, but Carriker has shown more pressure early this season. Sources credit a fierce battle in training camp with rookie Jarvis Jenkins, the second-rounder who opened a lot of eyes before suffering a torn ACL. Carriker is never going to be dominant, but he's a solid, serviceable performer who is playing well.

• There have been whispers that Cowboys RB Tashard Choice could be traded prior to Tuesday's trade deadline, but it's not something the team is actively pursuing. If a team came along and offered the Cowboys something significant, though, we hear it's something they very much would listen to.

• The Giants are keeping an eye on free-agent receivers, but the idea of making a big trade for a player such as the Broncos' Brandon Lloyd or the Colts' Reggie Wayne just doesn't appear to be a strong likelihood. Although the Giants could use help at the position, that would be a very unlikely option unless the price is just too good to pass up.

• The Vikings feel that DT Kevin Williams is ready to break out. He was held back by his two-game suspension to start the season, but in his past few games Williams has shown signs that he is ready to dominate. The Vikings' defensive line has played at a high level most of the season, and Williams returning to his Pro Bowl form would be a huge benefit.

• The allure of revitalizing his career playing for defensive line guru Rod Marinelli helped draw former first-round pick Amobi Okoye to the Bears after he was cut by the Texans in the offseason. Okoye signed a one-year deal with the Bears, hoping to showcase his skills and hit free agency again at only 24 years old and with more interested suitors. He could be the biggest beneficiary of the Bears' shake-up on the defensive line. He's getting his best chance yet to make an impact, with injuries leading to some shuffling on the D-line and clearing a spot for Okoye to start at the three-technique.

• Our Packers insiders think they might have made a mistake initially regarding the selection of sixth-round rookie ILB D.J. Smith as essentially a throwaway pick. Despite being undersized (5-11, 239) and with limited speed, we hear Smith has made a strong impression behind the scenes with his ability to get to the ball quickly and his hard hitting. The personable Smith has also apparently displayed good leadership skills that bode well for his future.

• Despite suffering through an awful case of the drops this season, Falcons WR Roddy White is still on pace for 100-plus catches and 1,000-plus yards. He's been bothered by nagging thigh and knee injuries, which may be affecting him on the field. Yet, sources say his concentration level isn't where it needs to be, and the Falcons are counting on him more now than at any other point this season, with Julio Jones sidelined by a hamstring injury.

• The Buccaneers activated FS Tanard Jackson from the exempt/commissioner's permission list to the 53-man roster Friday, and he's expected to play in Week Six. It would be his first game since he was suspended indefinitely two games into last season. Jackson returned in great shape, but we hear his football intelligence was a big part of the reason the Bucs were comfortable activating him so quickly. It also didn't hurt that safety is an area of weakness for the team. While failed drug tests led to his suspension, Jackson has always been quick with concepts of the game, and we hear the Buccaneers' defense hasn't changed much during his absence.

• Panthers RB Mike Goodson has become a non-factor after showing promise last season. Goodson started three games in 2010 and put together back-to-back 100-yard games while DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were injured, but he has yet to get a single carry in the four games he's played behind those two backs this season. There doesn't appear to be any sense of urgency from the Panthers to get Goodson more involved.

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