Whispers from around the NFL

Head coach Lovie Smith has been very pleased with CB Nathan Vasher, and sources say there are coaches who believe Vasher is close to being the team's top cornerback. Teams are picking on LCB Charles Tillman with great success. For now, Smith is satisfied keeping 2004 starter Jerry Azumah in a nickel CB role.

• Don't be surprised if Chiefs DT Ryan Sims misses significantly more than the expected 3-4 weeks with his foot sprain. We're told it's not all that different from the injury that kept former Patriots CB Ty Law out for more than half of last year.

• Fans in Detroit have been quick to point to ORT Kelly Butler, a first-year starter, as the problem area for the Lions' blocking issues, but scouts say the real weak link has been veteran newcomer Rick DeMulling at left guard. There are those who believe DeMulling is playing injured.