Here are some Whispers we've been hearing from our sources around the AFC:
• The speed of Titans second-year CB Tommie Campbell's development has been very impressive, the way we hear it. Campbell, who earned the praise of coordinator Jerry Gray — and subsequently, Tennessee's third CB spot on the depth chart — early in the offseason program, has ran with the promotion and hasn't looked back. A daily team observer points to Campbell's improved maturity, focus and drive this offseason — not to mention his off-the-charts athleticism — as reasons why his arrow is pointing straight up.
• Broncos OLB Von Miller had this to say to PFW about his former college teammate, Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tannehill: “He’s a great leader. He graduated with a biology degree before his senior year, that says a lot about him. He’s a married man. He’s mature beyond his years. If he gets that starting spot, I’m sure Dolphins fans will be happy.”
• Bengals undrafted MLB Vontaze Burfict was having a solid summer even before intercepting Jets QB Tim Tebow in the preseason opener. Burfict read the play well, diving to make the pick. There’s still plenty of time left until final cuts, but it appears Burfict has at least given himself a chance to be a roster consideration.
• It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Bengals WR Jordan Shipley could have to battle to make the club, the way we hear it. And how he fares coming off a knee injury a season ago a key factor. The Bengals have quite a bit of competition for WR roster spots this season. Shipley played well as a rookie in 2010, catching 52 passes for 600 yards and three TDs before being injured in Cincinnati’s second game of ’11. He caught the lone pass thrown to him in the Bengals’ preseason opener.
• The way we hear it, it’s looking likely that Steelers rookie RB Chris Rainey makes the club. Rainey, a fifth-round pick from Florida, could have a role on returns, and his playmaking ability was evident multiple times during the preseason opener at Philadelphia.
• The biggest question mark on the Texans isn't the right side of the offensive line. It isn't the young WR corps. It's the huge risk a club with such high hopes is taking by likely entering the season with a rookie fifth-rounder as placekicker. Randy Bullock has impressed in the offeason, but what happens if he can't answer the call when games are in crunch time?
• Broncos WRs Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas get the benefit of working with QB Peyton Manning, but receivers have to be aware at all times with Manning at the helm, explained Brandon Stokley. “Just be where you’re supposed to be,” Stokley told PFW would be his advice to the younger wideouts. “Be precise with your routes. If you do that, great things can happen for you because you’ll get a lot of opportunities.” Stokley, who spent four seasons with Manning in Indianapolis, began the preseason as Denver’s No. 3 receiver.
• We hear that one player who has shown good speed and explosion in Chargers camp was RB Michael Hayes, an undrafted rookie out of Houston. Though he had only 10 yards on six carries in the preseason opener and lost a fumble, Hayes could benefit from Ryan Mathews’ injury by getting additional work. However, Hayes will have to be exceptional to make a team that stockpiled backs this offseason.
• We’re told second-year veteran DeMarcus Van Dyke is having the best training camp of all the Raiders’ cornerbacks thus far. We hear Van Dyke is playing more physical than he did as a rookie and is doing a better job of using his hands in press coverage.
• A surprise performer in the Chiefs’ opener was OT-turned-TE Steve Maneri, who led the team in receiving with three catches for 69 yards, all from the backup quarterbacks. Maneri, who spent last season on the Patriots’ practice squad, has a real chance to make it as a blocking tight end behind Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss, two fairly accomplished receivers.