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NFC Whispers

Bulaga's hip injury might end his season

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By PFW staff

Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the NFC:

• We hear both Packers WR Greg Jennings (groin) and S-CB Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) are probably looking to return to action in the mid-December range. As for starting ORT Bryan Bulaga, who suffered a hip injury in the Week Nine win over Arizona, speculation is growing that the injury might be serious enough to shut him down the remainder of the season, considering all the tests Bulaga’s hip has undergone during the Packers’ bye week.

• Our Packers sources have begun wondering if Donald Driver might be suffering from a loss of confidence after having problems lately making plays that previously had been second nature for the veteran wide receiver.

• Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, who according to daily observers is probably still 2-3 weeks away from being fully recovered from the rib and shoulder injuries he suffered in early October, has begun to do some light throwing in practice, which is considered a positive sign. A not so positive sign, however, was the decision to sign DE Ronald Talley to fill the roster spot that opened when OLB O’Brien Schofield was placed on injured reserve. The addition of Talley appears to be a direct result of a leg injury that DE Calais Campbell has been nursing during the team’s bye week. The loss of Campbell even for a short time is something our sources agree that the Cardinals can ill afford.

• Bears CBs Kelvin Hayden and D.J. Moore have seen a bit of a role reversal recently. For the first time since Week One, the Bears played Hayden more than Moore in Week Nine. In fact, Moore played a season-low 12 snaps in the game. The Bears have not said Hayden has officially supplanted Moore as their No. 1 nickel corner, but the team is growing more and more comfortable with using Hayden in spots where Moore used to be the first option.

• Rams C Scott Wells is back on the practice field after suffering a fractured left foot in the season opener vs. the Lions. But team sources tell us Wells probably won’t be in game-day shape until the Rams’ Week 12 game at Arizona.

• 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh couldn’t be more pleased with the development of WR Michael Crabtree. “I think it’s been pretty evident in the way he’s played,” Harbaugh said. “He’s done an outstanding job in all the different phases that a receiver can do a good job in. Catching the ball. He made some great catches for us. Route running’s been very good. Physical in the blocking, in the physical game. And yards after the catch, he’s done a real fantastic job catching and running the ball. He’s been very determined when he has the ball in his hands.”

• Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham had an interesting observation on DT Ndamukong Suh’s personality leading up to Week 10: “Watching him grow over the last month and a half, you know, emotionally mature in different ways, has really been exciting for me. There was a time he wouldn’t talk to too many people, and now, it’s like he’s having fun.”

• The Vikings’ coaches simply had not trusted WR Jarius Wright prior to Week 10, which is why it took him so long to get a chance. Wright caught a TD pass against the Lions but also had a drop and needs to show more poise and form. However, his speed is clearly evident.

• Reports of Giants QB Eli Manning’s tired arm underscore another problem: His reaction time also looks far slower than normal and his mechanics have fallen off noticeably. That could be a result of a number of factors, but it’s clear that Manning is not diagnosing as quickly as he was earlier in the season.

• The Eagles believe rookie OG Dennis Kelly is starting to get it at guard. He was a college tackle, and many NFL teams did not have the fifth-rounder with a draftable grade, but he’s working better than expected — even though he has a ways to go — in the zone-blocking scheme.

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