Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the NFC:
• With Cardinals veteran SS Adrian Wilson recently telling the local media that he thought his days could be numbered in the desert, could disgruntled DE Darnell Dockett soon be following suit? It appears Dockett is none too happy with head coach Ken Whisenhunt after being fined at least $100,000 for disobeying a coaching directive near the end of the Week 13 game vs. the Jets and then being held out of the starting lineup in Week 14. “It’s possible,” one team insider said of Dockett. “He really should be a tackle in a 4-3 scheme and perhaps could be dangled in a trade. Problem is, Dockett has no heir apparent, as was the case with Antonio Smith, who was replaced by Calais Campbell, so they have to be careful.”
• Due to make $3.95 million in 2013 and $2.95 million in 2014, we hear Rams third OT Wayne Hunter likely will be too expensive to bring back next season.
• We hear the Packers have at least given some thought to lessening multithreat Randall Cobb’s workload by reducing his kick-return duties.
• Saints WR Joe Morgan has only seven catches this season, but he has really impressed the team’s coaching staff with his attention to detail and is a player the Saints believe can develop into a bigger factor for them offensively. “I think there are some hidden things that he’s done in games right now that people don’t see,” Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt said of Morgan this past week. “He’s really become a heck of a blocker. I think you attribute how we get better in the running game to some of the blocks he’s made. I think he’s contributed to some perimeter runs. For a younger guy, he really knows who to get.”
• The Redskins are having a harder time hiding S Madieu Williams’ shortcomings. The hope a few weeks back was that the return of Brandon Meriweather would help calm things down in the secondary — or perhaps add a level of playmaking ability — to help compensate. It didn’t happen once Meriweather suffered a season-ending knee injury. Now Williams is a weekly target. He too often gets caught looking into the backfield, even when the Redskins are not in zone coverage, and has been looked off and stung by double moves and pump fakes. His rate of getting burned is dangerously high.
• The Cowboys are in dire shape at nose tackle. They are without Josh Brent, accused of intoxication manslaughter and placed on the reserve non-injury list, for the rest of the season. And it appears that Jay Ratliff, their best down lineman, could be done, too, after he underwent surgery for a sports hernia. The ailments have piled up for Ratliff, who signed a huge deal (five years, $40 million) in September 2011 and might have hit his physical peak, as he's set to turn 32 prior to next season. But the concern for the Cowboys is immediate, too. Only Sean Lissemore can be counted on there, with unknowns (Robert Callaway and Brian Schaefering) as the recently signed backups.
• Vikings S Harrison Smith said he’s not sure when teammate Chris Cook will return but did add that he thinks Cook will add a new dimension to the defense if and when he does. “Chris is a competitor and you know he can handle the position physically,” Smith told PFW. “That confidence is infectious. If he comes back, we’ll feel (the effect). It would be big.” There’s a chance Cook could start practicing on a regular basis prior to the Week 16 game against the Texans.
• Packers TE Jermichael Finley said this week that the Bears might actually be better off on defense with Nick Roach at middle linebacker instead of Brian Urlacher, who is still out recovering from a hamstring injury. Finley’s view was not one shared by our league sources, though. Urlacher’s quickness has dropped off this season and Roach may be able to cover more ground than Urlacher in coverage, but Roach, who lacks size, gets caught out of position at times — his instincts do not measure up to Urlacher’s. One league evaluator said Roach is probably best suited to be a nickel ’backer, not a thumper on the inside.