Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the AFC:
• Jaguars owner Shahid Khan doesn’t seem the type to make knee-jerk reactions. In addition, he is still learning the lay of the NFL land and developing contacts and relationships in the business. So, while a lot can happen in the last six weeks, we hear it might make the most sense for Khan to give GM Gene Smith and head coach Mike Mularkey one more year together, rather than heading a GM search without the proper information and bringing in a third different head coach in three years.
• Titans DE Derrick Morgan has come on in recent weeks — and he is strong in run support. But for a former first-rounder, collecting 2½ sacks in 10 games and defending well against the run doesn’t cut it. High-priced free-agent addition Kamerion Wimbley isn’t cutting it, either. He is great in the locker room and does a solid job showing the young guys how to work, but where is the consistent pressure on quarterbacks? Isn’t that the main reason these guys were acquired?
• One of the bright spots for the struggling Raiders has been TE Brandon Myers, who is having a breakout season in his contract year. He has become the trusted safety valve (he has caught 75 percent of the passes in which he was the intended target) for QB Carson Palmer in his fourth season after winning the starting job in training camp. Myers has had his bad moments (he dropped a would-be TD that resulted in a interception in Week 11), but he’s been among the most consistent players on the team and it would be a surprise if the Raiders didn’t push to get him re-signed.
• Steelers rookie OG David DeCastro (knee) returned to practice on Nov. 21, starting the clock on a three-week period in which the club must decide whether to activate him to the roster or to keep him on injured reserve for the rest of the season. DeCastro indicated he’s not sure whether he’ll return this season. “I have no idea,” DeCastro said, according to the club. “I am just trying to go out every day and get better, get healthy. There is definitely room to improve. I have to get my strength back and endurance. I haven’t played football in so long."
• Browns CB Buster Skrine leads the Browns in penalties (10), the bulk of which are pass interference, holding or illegal contact fouls. However, Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron likes the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Skrine’s potential. “He just will battle and fight and try to do, technique wise, what he’s taught and never quits,” Jauron said, according to the club. “He’s obviously at a disadvantage against some receivers that are big receivers. He’s a good player, and he’s just going to get better. Obviously, you’ve got to eliminate a number of the penalties.” A second-year pro, Skrine leads the Browns in solo tackles (51) in 10 games (three starts).
• The Bills reportedly had a handful of linebackers in for tryouts this past week, and they signed LB Greg Lloyd to the practice squad. The linebacking corps has been a disappointment this season. Opening day starter Arthur Moats lost his job to rookie Nigel Bradham, and one source pointed out that MLB Kelvin Sheppard has not lived up to high expectations in his second season.
• Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano, who is in a contract year, is on pace to set a career-high in catches — he has 26 through 10 games — but his yardage total is way low. Fasano is averaging only 7.7 yards per catch, after picking up 14.1 yards per catch last year. We hear that part of the explanation for that figure is the quarterback, rookie Ryan Tannehill, simply isn’t using the middle of the field effectively to connect with Fasano up the seam. Fasano also has to compete for targets with TE/FB Charles Clay, who has not been the threat the team expected.
• At the start of the season, Knowshon Moreno was the backup to Willis McGahee, but he didn’t last long in that role when rookie Ronnie Hillman was ready to contribute, and Moreno has not played since Week Two. With McGahee out for the regular season, Moreno could be a factor, as the Broncos have not signed another back. Lance Ball, a reliable third-down back who we have heard the team likes as a safety valve, will be Hillman’s No. 2.