Here are some Whispers we've been hearing from our sources around the NFL:
• Colts MLB Pat Angerer has been terrific in his first two years in the league, showing great versatility and a knack for tracking down ball carriers and tackling well. But it remains to be seen how he will transition to Chuck Pagano’s base 3-4 defense, which typically calls for bigger, stouter run defenders. At 6-0, 235 pounds, Angerer is definitely a bit undersized, but he fit right into the Colts’ old scheme that valued speed and quickness more than brawn. How Angerer meshes in the new scheme will be just one of many intriguing story lines to monitor when the Colts' training camp opens later this month.
• If Niners WR-RS Ted Ginn, who has been unable to do much so far this offseason due to injuries, continues to have problems staying healthy, we hear he could end up being a surprise cut.
• While the Packers have wasted no time throwing first-round draft pick Nick Perry and second-round draft pick Jerel Worthy into the fire this offseason, a much more cautious approach is being used with fourth-round draft pick Mike Daniels, who had shoulder surgery in January. With DEs Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal facing eight- and four-game suspensions, respectively, the Packers would no doubt welcome any D-line help they could get from Daniels, but don’t be surprised if it takes a while for the Iowa product to start making an impact.
• After stressing how difficult it is to draw any meaningful conclusions from minicamps with offensive linemen performing solely in shorts, our Cardinals sources agree that fourth-round draft pick Bobby Massie certainly looks the part of a legitimate starting right tackle with his eye-popping 6-6, 316-pound dimensions.
• The consensus in Seattle is that former starting CB Marcus Trufant seems very well-suited for his new nickel-back role. “This is good for him, since he won’t have to turn and run downfield as much and can keep plays in front of him,” said one team source of Trufant, who is returning for his 10th season after signing a one-year, $1 million deal.
• Though many national pundits openly questioned why Texans head coach Gary Kubiak elected to take a three-year extension instead of four in June, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Kubiak did the exact same thing when Bob McNair offered him his first contract extension in Houston and he has more reason now to be confident about his club than he did in 2010.
• Much of the talk regarding the Colts’ CB competition opposite incumbent Jerraud Powers has centered on Kevin Thomas, who ran with the first team during offseason work, and second-year player Chris Rucker, who gained valuable starting experience amid a plethora of injuries last season. But we hear that Terrence Johnson’s name shouldn’t be discounted. A source indicated to PFW that Johnson could be an ideal fit to man the slot when the Colts go their subpackages, though he will see heavy competition from the aforementioned names, in addition to former Bronco Cassius Vaughn, former Ram Justin King and holdover Brandon King.
• The Patriots’ claim of TE Jake Ballard off waivers from the Giants caught a lot of attention because of the gamesmanship maneuver by Bill Belichick and the apparent frustration it caused the Giants’ brass. From the Patriots’ perspective, though, the signing adds to an offseason of stockpiling tight ends. As one source pointed out, it’s far from uncharacteristic of Belichick to load up on depth at one spot, as he has done at running back and tackle in the past. This offseason, the Pats signed Daniel Fells to be the No. 3 tight end, and Ballard, who is expected to start this season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, sets up competition for the 2012 season at a spot (the third tight end) that was a consistent weakness for New England in 2011. He also provides insurance down the line should the Patriots be unable to re-sign TE Aaron Hernandez.
• Things are a little different in San Diego this summer. The Chargers are not entering the season as the consensus pick by the media to win the AFC West. In fact, far from it. The Broncos and Chiefs are popular picks to finish ahead of San Diego. Norv Turner may still be very much on the hot seat, but we hear there is a sigh of relief around Chargers camp with lowered expectations. The team likes the fact that it is flying under the radar and players have looked very comfortable in practice.
• One Broncos player who is entering a crucial season is DE Robert Ayers, from what we hear. The former first-rounder is a starter on the end, but he hasn’t been much of a factor in his three seasons in the league. He notched 39 tackles in each of the last two seasons and has 4½ career sacks in his career. There is not a lot of depth behind Ayers, which gives him breathing room, but he has a lot to prove in 2012.
• Decision-making has long been considered the biggest weakness in Jay Cutler’s game, but scouts who have evaluated him since he entered the league say he is making major progress in that area. “(Cutler is) managing the game better,” a league evaluator told PFW. “He’s not making as many dumb mistakes. He’s not forcing the ball as much. … In Denver, he was spraying the ball all over the place.”
• The Saints have worked to build up CB Johnny Patrick’s confidence this offseason after he appeared in nine games as rookie in 2011. He didn’t make a start last season and contributed mostly on special teams, but the team is looking for him to make a major jump from Year One to Year Two. Patrick, who showed well in OTAs and minicamp, is in line to become the Saints’ top nickel back.
• Former Browns OT Tony Pashos’ recovery from surgery to repair a tendon in his left foot is going “as expected,” agent Rick Smith told PFW on Monday. Smith said that while it’s going to take some time for Pashos to get healthy, the hope is Pashos will be able to play at some point in 2012, with the veteran tackle anticipating “being able to return to full strength this season,” Smith said. Pashos, who turns 32 in August, has made 70 career starts in nine NFL seasons but has played just 23 games in the last three campaigns. He started 12 games at right tackle for Cleveland in 2011, playing through the foot injury.