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NFC Whispers

Cardinals likely to try rookie Peterson on offense

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Posted Nov. 12, 2011 @ 10:56 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Updated Nov. 13, 2011 @ 3:54 p.m. ET

Here are some of the whispers we've been hearing from our sources around the NFC:

• Already pulling double duty as the Cardinals' starting right corner and primary punt returner, first-round draft pick Patrick Peterson can be expected to become a growing force in spot situations on offense, we hear. "They've gone that route before with 'DRC' (ex-Cardinal Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson," said one team insider. "He is so dynamic with the ball in his hands, I think they could have a play or two targeted for him in every game the rest of the way."

• More than a few eyebrows were raised when the Rams decided to bench longtime starting C Jason Brown in favor of ex-Niner Tony Wragge, despite the fact Brown had been grading out the highest among the team's offensive linemen. But personnel people around the league have been telling PFW for some time that they thought Brown was better-suited as a guard than a center.

• We hear there's no denying the Seahawks' disappointment with free-agent addition Robert Gallery. Although knee and groin injuries that have forced him to miss four games have been part of the problem, sources on the scene believe he hasn't been as good as backup OLG Paul McQuistan when healthy enough to play. Said one team source, "(Gallery) really had only one good game the first half of the season."

• Niners WR Braylon Edwards recently told a team insider that the team has yet to really delve into the chapters in Jim Harbaugh's extensive playbook devoted to the passing game, and that more innovations involving the receiving corps could be forthcoming.

• The Eagles' "Big Three" corners all are struggling to varying degrees, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is having an awful season. He looks lost in the system, is blowing coverages and doesn't seem confident whatsoever doing what he is asked to do. His athleticism can make up for some deficiencies, but right now Rodgers-Cromartie looks completely lost. His Eagles future is in question beyond this season, no doubt.

• Cowboys WR Laurent Robinson says he has been impressed with rookie RB DeMarco Murray so far. "He's a quiet guy," Robinson told PFW. "(Murray) comes in and does his work, doesn't say much, just smiles and goes to work. The veterans like it. They like what he has done and the way he has done it."

• Redskins seventh-round OG Maurice Hurt was cut in camp but now finds himself in the starting lineup. The early results? He has looked slow and mechanical at times when defenses have used complex, twisting fronts. But he appears to have decent balance and footwork and might be worth developing long term. Hurt hasn't embarrassed himself.

• The Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka looks increasingly more comfortable as the season has gone on. He is playing a hybrid LB-DE position, which plays to his versatility and athleticism. Early in the season, Kiwanuka appeared more hesitant and thus was not making as many plays. But in recent weeks, he has trusted his instincts and is playing more freely.

• Vikings OG Joe Berger has opened some eyes with his play in replacing Anthony Herrera, and some have said that Berger deserves to be the starter even after Herrera gets healthy. That said, few people at Winter Park see Berger as more than a serviceable backup in the future, meaning that the Vikings' 2012 starter at right guard likely will be someone not currently on the roster.

• Rumor has it that Packers ROLB Erik Walden was none too happy about being expected to share the load at his position with Frank Zombo before Zombo suffered his third injury of the season in Week Nine. Sources close to the team believe Walden's unhappiness over having his starting job altered and his excellent performance in the Week Nine game in San Diego — his best game this season — may be related. As for the snakebitten Zombo, word is the hamstring injury he suffered against San Diego is expected to keep him out of only one game.

• With Matt Toeaina healthy again after missing a couple of games with a knee injury and rookie Stephen Paea making progress each week, Anthony Adams has fallen behind in the Bears' competition for snaps at nose tackle. Adams, who started all 16 games last season and signed a two-year deal in the offseason, was a healthy scratch in Week Nine, and his performance has declined.

• Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham believes rookie DT Nick Fairley, bothered by a foot injury at times this season, is fit. "Physical conditioning is really good," Cunningham said. "He has got this guy he is working against every day — I don't know if you heard we signed (ex-Cowboys OG) Leonard Davis. I have coached against Leonard a lot, and he looks like an elephant with ballerina feet. I mean, he is very gifted and he moves his feet really well. Noted Cunningham, "I don't think Leonard knew who No. 98 was because Fairley did a really good job a couple times on him, and that was impressive because Leonard just doesn't go out to practice to be a scout-team guy right now."

• Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has gained more attention this season since head coach Sean Payton suffered a broken leg and torn MCL in Week Six. Carmichael became the primary play-caller with Payton moving from the sideline to the press box because of his injury and, although no decisions have been made, Payton could be comfortable with Carmichael continuing in that role. Carmichael keeps a low profile, but he's very well-respected. He has turned down opportunities to join the Dolphins' staff in the past and likely will have teams seeking his services again in the offseason.

• Buccaneers OLB Geno Hayes lost his starting job in Week Nine because of poor performance and was demoted in favor of Adam Hayward, who is expected to start ahead of Hayes again in Week 10. Sources say OLB play is one of the areas in which the team is most disappointed this season. Quincy Black, who moved from the strong side to the weak side in Week Nine, has missed two games because of injury and hasn't played up to the five-year contract worth up to $29 million that he signed in the offseason.

• The starting ORT job is most likely going to be Jeff Otah's if he returns healthy next season, but the Panthers are very pleased with how Byron Bell, an undrafted rookie, has played in Otah's absence this season. Otah was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 19 for the third time in his four-year career. The Panthers know they are going to need a good insurance policy for Otah and are gaining confidence that Bell, who has four starts under his belt, can be one.

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