NFC Links: Sam, Scandrick, Hill

The Vikings finished the 2013 season as the second-worst pass defense in the league. Injuries to Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith certainly didn’t help, and the healthy, matured group is expected to take a big step forward in 2014… even with their daunting schedule, which includes games against Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in consecutive weeks.

“That’s okay, you want to play the best,” Rhodes said (via Mark Craig of the Star Tribune). “To me, staying healthy is the key. Last year, DBs were going down left and right. We have the weapons. We just need to be healthier.”

Head coach Mike Zimmer has been seeing improvements from his secondary, and he’s thrilled with the presence of veteran defensive coordinator Jerry Gray:

“I’m pretty involved with the defensive backs, so I step in there quite a bit and I tell him exactly what I want because that’s kind of my baby,” Zimmer said. “By about the third day, Jerry was saying things to the players before I could say it. And it was the exact same thing I was going to say, so that made me feel really good.”

Let’s check out some more rumblings from the NFC…

  • Todd Archer of predicts that it will be at least a month until the Cowboys would potentially promote Michael Sam to the active roster.
  • There have been plenty of rumors over the past couple of days that recently-suspended Orlando Scandrick could be reinstated if the NFL and the players’ association agree to a new drug policy. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn’t counting on Scandrick to be available on opening day, however. I’m not planning on it, let’s put it like that,” Jones said on KRLD-FM/105.3 (via Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram). “The quicker we can get him back, the better our team would be because he arguably did have … a great training camp.”
  • Since it will take him at least a couple of weeks to learn the playbook, Stephen Hill likely won’t be on the Panthers active roster any time soon, writes’s David Newton. The writer believes that Hill ultimately will make the team, writing that organizations “don’t keep second-round picks on the practice squad.”
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