Here are some Whispers we've been hearing from our sources around the AFC:
• Jaguars CB Derek Cox has the ability to be a lockdown corner, but it is fair to wonder if injuries will ever allow him to reach his full potential. Jaguars GM Gene Smith is fond of saying “availability supersedes ability,” and Cox opened the 2012 season again unavailable because of another soft-tissue injury (hamstring). With Rashean Mathis still not all the way back from knee surgery, the Jaguars’ CB depth could be an issue to begin the season.
• The Chiefs have to be worried about their defensive sub-packages. The depth is not as strong as was earlier hoped, and finding reliable nickel- and dime-package candidates has been a chore.
• The Bengals’ CB depth bears watching. Rookie CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) will be out multiple weeks. Moreover, CB Jason Allen has battled a quad injury, and Adam Jones has struggled to stay healthy in his Bengals career. The Bengals’ top reserve cornerback is ex-Cowboy Terence Newman, who has acquitted himself well back in Mike Zimmer’s scheme.
• Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is confident in the club’s DT depth even with starter Phil Taylor out for the start of the season with a pectoral injury and the club counting on three rookies — Billy Winn, John Hughes, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen — in the middle along with standout veteran Ahtyba Rubin. Jauron told Cleveland reporters that the club doesn’t want to overwork the high-motor Rubin. “(We) need to get (Rubin) more rest than we got him a year ago,” Jauron said. “We need to keep him at a high level all year.”
• In HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” we saw second-year Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas get in some trouble with head coach Joe Philbin for being late. We’re told that while Thomas has looked good on the field this preseason, there are still questions about his motivation. Philbin has already shown with trades of Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis that players need to fully buy in to his system. Reggie Bush will be a free agent after this season, and if the Dolphins choose not to re-sign him, Thomas has an opportunity to be a No. 1 back if he puts it all together this season.
• Texans head coach Gary Kubiak does not like keeping return specialists on the roster, but Trindon Holliday’s extraordinary offseason forced Kubiak and GM Rick Smith’s hand. Even so, it is hard to ignore Holliday’s previous fumbling track record. Word is there is just a feeling that the first time he fields a punt when it counts, the ball security issues will again rear their ugly head.
• Two second-year Steelers defenders who’ve stepped up their games, the way we hear it, are OLB Chris Carter and CB Cortez Allen.
• Tashard Choice won the battle to be the Bills’ No. 3 back, beating out 2011 draft pick Johnny White. We hear one thing going for Choice is Chan Gailey’s loyalty, as Choice played for Gailey at Georgia Tech. In six games last season, Choice had 23 carries for 70 yards. He has yet to come within 100 yards of the production of his rookie season in ’08 (472 rushing yards on 92 carries).
• One of the surprises from the Chargers’ roster moves, we hear, was that the team decided to keep four tight ends. Randy McMichael remains the block-first tight end behind Antonio Gates. Rookie Ladarius Green will likely be inactive often, but it’s a question mark as to what role Dante Rosario will play. The sixth-year veteran had seven catches last year in Denver.
• With injury concerns surrounding WRs Austin Collie and rookie T.Y. Hilton, keep an eye on Colts first-year receiver Kris Adams. After a very strong camp, in which he seemed to make one spectacular catch after another, the 6-3, 194 pound Adams earned a roster spot — and the affection of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Adams could continue making the most of his chances in the early going.