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Winning season key to Kubiak staying in Houston

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By PFW staff

Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the league:

• Head coach Gary Kubiak is signed through the 2012 season, but word is he likely needs a winning record this season to remain at the helm in '12. Owner Bob McNair has been extremely loyal to Kubiak, but last season's regression makes it difficult for McNair not to make a move if improvements aren't made in a hurry.

• The way we hear it, the Titans' decision to extend the contract of GM Mike Reinfeldt through the 2014 season makes a lot of sense. The deal had been in the works for a while, as Reinfeldt was entering the final year of his old contract, and it brings some much-needed stability to an organization that has been lacking in that department lately.
 
• Executive vice president of football operations John Elway said the Broncos have had no contact on a possible trade for the No. 2 overall pick, but added that calls still could come closer to draft day. One daily team observer said he doesn't expect the Broncos to drop any lower than No. 6 if they decide to trade the pick.

• As the only team without a first-round pick, the Raiders will be forced to take a wait-and-see approach to the draft. The team would like to take a quarterback with their first selection — the 48th overall — but there is expected to be a run on that position late in the first round and early in the second, leaving Oakland to see who the best signalcaller remaining is before they choose. If a suitable QB isn't on the board, cornerback and offensive line are the likely areas the team will address.

• We hear it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that one of the first orders of business for the Rams once free agency finally begins will be to re-sign WR Mark Clayton. By all accounts, Clayton should be fully healed from the knee injury that ended his 2010 season in Week Five at Detroit. "That's definitely not a reach," one team source said of the speculation that re-signing Clayton is considered a top priority. "It really is amazing how quickly he clicked last season with (QB Sam) Bradford."

• Regarding where the Rams' training camp will be held this summer, we hear it's between Rolla, Mo., and Carbondale, Ill., with Rolla probably having a slight edge because of logistics, even though Carbondale has really upgraded its facilities.

• Word is the Packers probably will re-sign free-agent PK Mason Crosby, who despite his strong leg (his 56-yard field goal in Week One was the longest in the NFC last season) is not expected to attract an overwhelming amount of interest because of his lack of game-winning kicks (only 1-of-4 in his four-year career).

• Our Seahawks sources believe free-agent OL Tyler Polumbus, who did a decent job replacing Russell Okung when the first-round left tackle was injured last season, is a very good bet to be re-signed. "They really like his versatility," one team insider said. "He had starts at left tackle, left guard and right tackle last season, and he could probably play right guard, too, if need be."

• Even though it would appear the 49ers are well-stocked at tight end with Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and second-year pro Nate Byham, we hear new head coach Jim Harbaugh still might find it hard to resist spending a draft pick on another player at the position. "Harbaugh just loves tight ends," one team insider said. "He used three of them (Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Konrad Reuland) to help Stanford kill Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl."  

• Our Cardinals sources believe it's worth keeping an eye on CB A.J. Jefferson, an undrafted rookie last season who saw action in a couple of games. It seems quite possible Jefferson will replace veteran backup Trumaine McBride, who has not been tendered.

• While the mystery of who the Bills will take with the third pick continues, GM Buddy Nix dropped an interesting hint about where the team's defensive focus lies. He said that stopping the run is more important than rushing the passer. The Bills were dead last in the league in run defense last season and 27th in sacks. If you sift through the smokescreen, the Bills could be apt to take Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, not Texas A&M OLB Von Miller, if both are available. It is doubtful both are there at No. 3, but the Bills apparently would be perfectly fine with Dareus if Miller goes to the Broncos.

• While many people have pegged a nose tackle, such as Baylor's Phil Taylor, to go to the Jets with the 30th pick, the team does have some depth with young players along the D-line. GM Mike Tannenbaum said in the team's pre-draft press conference that he thinks one of those players, Marcus Dixon, is "going to be a good football player for us." Dixon played in three games last season, recording four tackles.

• Just what do the Panthers expect from their one-year investment in TE Jeremy Shockey, which will cost them at least $1 million and as much as $3.8 million? We hear they'll be satisfied if he plays at least three-quarters of the season and serves as a safety valve in the passing game for whoever ends up playing quarterback. Shockey, heading into his 10th season, has never played a full 16-game season and has missed at least three games in each of the past three seasons.

• Aside from LS Andrew Economos, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon this offseason, the Buccaneers are happy about the health situation with their players. While teams have been barred from communicating with players during the lockout, team doctors can work with players as long as it's not at the club's facility and the doctors can report back to the team. The Bucs are optimistic key young players like WR Arrelious Benn (ACL tear), DT Brian Price (pelvis surgery) and DT Gerald McCoy (torn biceps) will be ready for training camp.

• As he rehabilitates from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Steelers P Daniel Sepulveda is primarily working to regain his explosiveness, he told PFW. Sepulveda, who had his four-month postsurgery checkup earlier in April, said the timetable for total recovery from the injury is eight months. Expressing sentiments similar to the last time he was coming back from an ACL tear in 2009, Sepulveda said he does not anticipate having much trouble regaining his punting stroke when he is able to again kick fully. "It's a lot like riding a bike," he said.

• General manager Tom Heckert believes the Browns' defensive line, which seems to lack standouts other than DT Ahtyba Rubin, is in relatively good shape. Asked about the linemen other than Rubin at his pre-draft press conference, Heckert said, according to the club: "We have the guys that we have on our team and that's what we have right now. We'll see what happens with (potential UFA DE) Jayme (Mitchell), but we think they are serviceable guys. They really are. Are they elite guys? I don't know if we had elite guys last year and I think we were all right. We will find players."

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