Here are some Whispers we've been hearing from our sources around the NFL:
• The word out of the desert is that OLT Levi Brown, who tore his right triceps tendon in Arizona’s third preseason game vs. Oakland, is looking at a lengthy rehab period of at least three months, which probably will keep him from being able to play this season.
• With D’Anthony Batiste, who has had only four starts in six pro seasons, currently shaping up as the front-runner to replace the injured Levi Brown at left tackle, we hear it’s a virtual certainty the Cardinals will diligently scour the waiver wire for a more proven commodity to replace Brown. Batiste, the one lineman team sources tell us played well in the second preseason game vs. the Chiefs, had emerged as the favorite at right tackle, where veteran Jeremy Bridges and massive rookie Bobby Massie are expected to battle for the starting job if Batiste moves to left tackle. Free-agent addition Adam Snyder previously put in time at both tackle positions with the 49ers, but we hear Ken Whisenhunt would prefer to keep Snyder locked in at right guard.
• After failing to appear in a second consecutive preseason game, Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson is becoming an increasingly good bet to get traded. Multiple reports have indicated that Jackson would be willing to adjust his $4 million salary this season if it would help expedite a deal. Teams that could be more than a little interested in Jackson include the Packers, the Browns and the Dolphins.
• It would appear the 49ers’ backfield dodged a few bullets in the preseason loss to the Texans, with neither of the injuries suffered by RBs Brandon Jacobs (knee) and rookie LaMichael James (ankle) seeming to be as serious as they first looked when both backs were carried off the field. The early word is that James should get back on the practice field early this week, but Jacobs could be a long shot for the regular-season opener.
• We hear one of the 49ers’ most pleasant surprises has been the standout play of journeyman OLB Erik Bakhtiari, who led the team in tackles (seven) for the second consecutive week against the Texans. “For a guy that’s only got one year in the league or whatever it is, he’s got a lot of experience because he’s been in a bunch of camps,” Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Bakhtiari, who is providing a boost for a depleted OLB corps currently missing Aldon Smith (hip). “He’s a smart player.”
• While there are some close observers of the Rams starting to wonder about Scott Wells, the ex-Packers center who has yet to play as a Ram because of his slow recovery from a knee injury, word is Robert Turner, another free-agent addition who previously played under new Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with the Jets, has really pleased the team as Wells’ replacement. “With Scott’s absence, he’s really taken advantage of it,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “He has a good sense of what we’re doing, making the calls. He’s done well. He’s getting along great with (QB) Sam (Bradford) and the other guys and holding it together until Scott gets back.”
• Even though the Packers are excited about the possibility of a bigger impact from second-year pro Randall Cobb as a receiver this season, there are some daily team observers who believe he still needs lots of work perfecting his routes.
• PFW recently asked Packers backup QB Graham Harrell to compare Tom Clements, Harrell’s QB coach last year who has been promoted to offensive coordinator, to his new QB coach, Ben McAdoo, who was the TE coach last year. “They are completely different people,” Harrell told PFW. “They have different personalities and strengths, but they are both great coaches, and to be able to learn from both of them is an awesome opportunity. Tom is calm all the time, very technical. Ben’s a bit more fiery, coming from the tight end position.”
• When asked about a young player who has impressed him in camp, Dolphins DE Jared Odrick mentioned a pair of young offensive tackles. “(ORT) Jonathan Martin has been improving. When he first got here, he was thrown into the mix and got tossed around here and there. Now he’s brought a completely different temperament to practice. He’s been doing a really good job,” Odrick told PFW. “A guy that just got switched to tackle who has the right temperament and the right attitude is Will Yeatman. He caught my attention. He was 270 pounds three months ago (as a tight end) and is back here at 305. An athletic, aggressive guy with long arms, real tall. He can be a real nice fit at the tackle position.”
• Losing Ryan Mathews was obviously a big blow to the Chargers, but Mathews’ injury history was a big reason why the team loaded up on insurance, adding veterans Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle in free agency and drafting Edwin Baker. The acquisitions are evidence the team was well prepared if something happened to Mathews. We’re told that head coach Norv Turner is a big fan of Brown, who is expected to start with Mathews out. As a backup for the Eagles last season, Brown had only 42 carries and gained just 3.2 yards per carry. He racked up 200 carries in 2010 with Miami but gained just 3.7 yards per carry that season. Turner has plenty of backs to rotate through if the 30-year-old Brown needs a rest or is ineffective.
• The Buccaneers would like to be more creative with how they use SLB Quincy Black, who is coming off a disappointing season. The new coaching staff is trying to take advantage of his athleticism, lining him up in different areas and dropping him into coverage from the line of scrimmage. We hear the club has to be wary of overloading Black, who can be short-circuited. The Bucs will run the risk of slowing him down by giving him more to process.
• Saints DT Sedrick Ellis did not play up to expectations last season, and the importance of the 2012 campaign — Ellis’ contract year — has not been lost on the fifth-year veteran. “It will be a pivotal point in my career and a pivotal point in my relationship with the Saints,” Ellis told reporters earlier this week. “I love this team. I’ve been here since the start of it all and I would love to stay here and be with these guys until I finish. In order to do that, I have to have a pretty good season.”
• We hear first-year Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is making his presence felt with his new club, and players have embraced him. We’re told Tarver, who coached at Stanford last season, is constantly talking. He’s apparently the loudest guy on the practice field.