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McDaniels a big fan of WR Amendola

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By PFW staff

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

• We hear new Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels thinks the world of productive holdover Danny Amendola, who is likely to be counted on as a key weapon in the team's revamped offense.

• Rookie Patriots RB Stevan Ridley said he hadn't got much of a chance to watch BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead lead the Patriots' ninth-ranked rushing attack last season. "I know it's a big and small combo," Ridley said. The Pats' third-round pick will be part of the next generation of "big and small" tailbacks in New England along with second-round RB Shane Vereen. Vereen is a quick, effective receiver and Ridley is an inside runner who admitted that he's "not a blazer."

• The Cowboys appear very interested in adding veteran safety help, knowing they put Alan Ball in a compromising situation last season. However, it doesn't mean they don't want Ball on the roster. He has versatility as a former cornerback and special-teamer.

• The way we hear it, the Jaguars are still considering re-signing MLB Kirk Morrison, an unrestricted free agent. While it has long been believed that both Morrison and WLB Justin Durant would not be back next season, the club might be inclined to give Morrison another shot. He is not likely to be a hot commodity once free agency begins, and while he did not make enough impact plays last season, finding a middle linebacker — especially one who can come in and start right away without the benefit of a full offseason — could prove to be difficult.

• The Broncos drafted Von Miller to be their strong-side linebacker, but he might fill in as a defensive lineman in certain formations. The way we hear it, the Denver coaching staff is considering moving Miller closer to the line on clear-cut passing downs, taking advantage of the rookie's pass-rushing abilities. He is expected to remain standing, rather than having a hand on the ground.

• While we hear the Cardinals believe veteran Rex Hadnot is more than capable of replacing the recently retired Alan Faneca at left guard, word is it would not be a shock if the team made a strong effort to find a potential upgrade for the position in free agency. Hadnot has starting experience and is excellent in the locker room, but he has had issues with his knees. The versatile Jeremy Bridges also could figure in the mix at left guard, but we hear Bridges is more likely to mount a serious challenge to potential free agent Brandon Keith at right tackle.  

• It appears Cardinals fifth-round draft pick Anthony Sherman will start at fullback immediately. "They believe that's a position you can put a guy to start right away," one team insider said. "They love him as a blocker. The weak blocking at fullback last year was a factor in the ground game's decline. They think Sherman will be an upgrade." We're told the Cardinals also considered Sherman to be one of the best special-teamers available in the draft.

• Our Rams insiders are intrigued by seventh-round FS Jonathan Nelson. "He's a converted cornerback with really good range," one close observer said. "But what's most impressive about him are the big game-saving plays he made at [Oklahoma]."

• Word is 49ers free-agent OL Tony Wragge, who has proven to be a solid interior reserve, could nonetheless be moving on with the team adding a pair of projected guards late in the draft in Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person. It is also virtually a given that the addition of third-round CB Chris Culliver seals the departure of free agent Will James, who had problems with injuries and ended up playing only five games last season.

• Our sources in Seattle believe free-agent OL Ray Willis, who missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury, could be welcomed back by new assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable at the right price. "He's an interesting guy who has that physicality and nastiness that Cable looks for," one team source said of Willis. "I could see him come back as a swing guy."  

• The Panthers spent two third-round picks on defensive tackles, drafting Terrell McClain and Sione Fua, but we're hearing it's still a position the team will look to address in free agency. The Giants' Barry Cofield has been linked to Carolina. He has ties to Panthers defensive line coach Eric Washington, who coached Cofield at Northwestern, but Cofield won't get a chance to hit the open market if the league operates under the same free-agency rules that it did last season. He would be a restricted free agent and the Giants placed a second-round tender on him this offseason. Cofield would be a major upgrade for the Panthers, but it's unlikely they would be willing to part with a second-round pick for him.

• Colts S Jamie Silva, who missed all of last season after tearing his ACL during the preseason, is not recovering from the injury as quickly as expected. Silva is not only one of the team's best special-teams players, he also could be in the mix for playing time at safety with the club uncertain it will be able to re-sign potential free agents Melvin Bullitt and Aaron Francisco.

• With Marcell Dareus set to start from Day One, Torell Troup and Alex Carrington will move down the depth chart a notch. Carrington played in nine games as a rookie, and GM Buddy Nix said recently that Carrington "got better every time he played." As for Troup, he played in 15 games with two starts in his rookie campaign last season. "Troup, he's big enough to play in there, anchor the 3-4 and at defensive end," Nix said. The two will be solid backups for Dareus, giving the Bills plenty of youth and depth on the D-line.

• Remember Victor Cruz, last year's surprise performer in Giants' training camp? Well, don't count Cruz out for a roster spot this season. Steve Smith is coming off a serious injury, which opens up the possibility of him opening the season on the PUP list. Cruz's development as a receiver, plus his special-teams ability, make earning a roster spot a possibility.

• It's clear the Steelers like their safety depth behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. They did not draft a safety, and the only safety they have drafted since 2008 — Ryan Mundy — joins Will Allen as the top reserves behind the starters. By contrast, the Steelers have drafted five cornerbacks in the past three drafts, including two this April (Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen).

• The way we hear it, the fact that the Steelers waited until Round Seven to draft a running back could be a good sign for second-year pro Jonathan Dwyer, who could move up in the pecking order at the position if Mewelde Moore (who's slated to be an unrestricted free agent) departs. Moore (33 carries, 26 catches in 2010) and Isaac Redman (52 carries, nine catches) were the primary backups to Rashard Mendenhall last season.

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