Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC:
• Unless there's an injury, Jason Campbell will be the Raiders' starting quarterback when the team heads to Denver for a Week One "Monday Night Football" clash with the Broncos. To the surprise of many, the team opted not to draft a player at the position, and head coach Hue Jackson said publicly that Campbell is his guy going forward. When free agency starts, the team is likely to sign a backup to compete with Kyle Boller.
• Last year's selection of CB Devin McCourty by New England was a wake-up call to Terrence Wheatley, who ended up being cut. This year's selection of CB Ras-I Dowling with the 33rd overall pick could be a similar "heads-up" to Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite, as Dowling will compete to be the team's third corner behind McCourty and Leigh Bodden.
• All the confidence Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix put behind Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason was no smoke screen, as they did not draft a quarterback, even with ample opportunities to do so. They could have taken Blaine Gabbert at No. 3, Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick at No. 34 or Ricky Stanzi on Saturday, but instead focused on defense. "Fitz's abilities, his leadership and the way he played last year gave us the freedom to be able to do what we needed to do with our football team," Gailey said.
• After not drafting a defensive tackle, a position many consider the Broncos' biggest need, we hear Denver likely will address the position in free agency. The team did not want to pass on players it considered to be more talented to reach for a DT in the draft, and head coach John Fox has said the team already has plans in place to fill its remaining needs.
• While the consensus seems to be that the Jaguars made a smart decision trading their first- and second-round picks — No. 16 and No. 49 — to the Redskins in exchange for the No. 10 pick which turned out to be QB Blaine Gabbert, we're hearing head coach Jack Del Rio could be in the minority. With pressure to win now at an all-time high for Del Rio, and Gabbert expected to take time to develop behind starter David Garrard, the embattled head coach likely would have benefited more from help on defense with those two picks.
• The way we hear it, the rumors regarding UFA DT Tommie Harris landing in Indianapolis are likely just that - rumors. According to a daily team observer, the Corey Simon signing prior to the 2005 season still hangs over the club "like a lead balloon."
• It will be interesting to monitor how the Colts proceed with ORT Ryan Diem after using their first-round pick on OT Anthony Castonzo. Diem is owed in excess of $5 million next season and his play fell off considerably last season. We hear the club also remains high on 2010 undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach and OT Joe Reitz, whom some have compared to a young Diem.
• Darren Sproles can officially pack his bags and put his house on the market, because despite what Norv Turner said about him, he no longer has a place on the Chargers. The team replaced his kick-return skills in the draft with Marcus Gilchrist and added a small, complementary back in Jordan Todman to take his place in the offense. With so many other priority free agents the team would like to bring back, Sproles will need to find a new team once the offseason officially begins.
• Free-agent OLB Mike Vrabel is a great locker-room guy and a favorite of the Chiefs' coaching staff, but his roster spot is not safe with the team. K.C. wants to get younger at the OLB position, and since Vrabel will be 36 when the season begins, the two sides might decide to go their separate ways.
• The Steelers are intrigued by the upside of fourth-round CB Cortez Allen of The Citadel. "I asked him when he came to visit us, 'How much time do you get to work on your craft?' Steelers DB coach Carnell Lake said of Allen. "He said, 'I don't get a lot of time because I have to do The Citadel stuff.' … If he can spend a lot of time working on his craft I see a lot of upside for him."
• After the 2011 draft, GM Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens tried multiple times to select pass rushers but were unsuccessful, and he indicated the team would be searching for pass-rush help once player transactions resume. "If we could get the opportunity to put ourselves in the position to get someone else, we would probably be looking at it very seriously," he said.
• A daily team observer suggests Ravens rookie CB Jimmy Smith will have a chance to start immediately opposite of Domonique Foxworth, who is expected to return to the lineup after missing the 2010 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Smith is bigger than any cornerback on the Ravens' roster and could be very effective in press coverage if he plays to his potential.