Following are several whispers we've heard recently from our sources in the NFC North:
• When the season is over and they don't have to gear so much of their focus toward game planning, Mike Martz and Jay Cutler could devote significant time to working on mechanics, particularly when it comes to Cutler's footwork. Martz recently said Cutler has improved in that area since the start of the season, but he admitted that he's not where his quarterback needs to be yet. "I think some of the footwork (criticism) — and (Cutler) knows that — is fair. You can't go through a lifetime with those kinds of habits and just fix them in one season," Martz said.
• Both Packers rookie DE Mike Neal and veteran LB Brady Poppinga told team sources a few days before the NFC championship game that they expect to be fully recovered in time for training camp from the season-ending injuries they suffered last October. Neal, who was starting to come on when he got hurt, had successful surgery at the end of October on a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum suffered a few weeks earlier. Poppinga tore the meniscus in his knee against Miami on Oct. 17.
• Don't rule out Tyrell Johnson in the safety mix in Minnesota. Johnson was not a favorite of fired head coach Brad Childress but could get a head start under Leslie Frazier, who is said to have not given up on the third-year player.
• The Lions, we hear, actually feel lucky about picking No. 13 in Round One. They figure that, although their job gets harder than it was when they were selecting either first or second overall in the past two drafts, the talent pool still should be rich at that spot. Detroit has found good players later in Round One (Brandon Pettigrew at No. 20 in 2009; Jahvid Best at No. 30 in '10) over that span.