Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the NFC:
• We hear the speculation that the Rams are likely to put the franchise tag on free agent-to-be Danny Amendola is a bit premature. “I think it could be a tough call with him,” one team insider said of Amendola’s future in St. Louis. “He’s been playing like a No. 1 receiver, no doubt. But as tough and gritty as he appears to be, he’s also missed 18 of the last 25 games.”
• There is a growing feeling among our Rams sources that the team could have the same kind of dramatically new look at the safety position next season as it has this season at the cornerback position. It would appear the coverage deficiencies of Craig Dahl, Quintin Mikell and Darian Stewart, in no particular order, is a problem the team appears determined to solve.
• Don’t look for TE Todd Heap to be back with the Cardinals next season. “(Head coach Ken) Whisenhunt has been extremely frustrated with him,” a team insider said of Heap, who has been unable to get back on the field since suffering a knee injury in Week Two against the Patriots. That frustration was clearly apparent during a recent practice, when Whisenhunt and Heap had an extended conversation in full view of the local media.
• Word is there are hardly any guarantees that Packers RB Cedric Benson, who has been out with a sprained foot, will return to the starting lineup Dec. 9 vs. the Lions — the earliest he can return from the injured reserve/return list.
• Our sources are not expecting to see the Panthers’ coaching staff change course and give RB DeAngelo Williams more opportunities down the stretch. Williams is on pace for 139 touches, which would be the fewest he has had in a full season (he missed 10 games in 2010) since entering the league in 2006.
• Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw is the starting back. But the team is worried enough about his ability to last through the rest of the season with a painful neck ailment that they started investigating veteran free-agent options to consider if things changed with his health. Andre Brown is ready to go if Bradshaw goes down, but it makes you wonder what the level of comfort is in rookie David Wilson when the team is bringing in established free-agent backs just in case.