NFC Notes: Cardinals, Rams, Vikings

     

Cardinals

After a career year for the Bills in 2019 with 9.5 sacks, DT Jordan Phillips cashed in with a three-year, $30 million deal from the Cardinals. Phillips is sensitive to the critique that his breakout came in a contract season and he’s determined to prove to his new team that last year was no fluke. 

“A lot of people think it was some miracle or I was playing for a contract, etcetera, but I had more of an opportunity,” Phillips said via Kyle Odegard of the team’s website. “It was the first time in my career being on the third-down group. . . . Buffalo did a really good job utilizing my talents, and they reaped the benefits of it.”

  • Per Darren Urban of the team website, Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury said he’s confident the physicals needed to finalize the trade for WR DeAndre Hopkins will happen before the draft: “There is no concern. We’ll get it done. I have no doubts it’ll be done before the draft.”
  • Even if the team can’t meet for on-field OTA’s, Kingsbury doesn’t anticipate that will stunt Cardinals QB Kyler Murray‘s growth entering his second season: “I don’t think so. I think he’s figured out what he has to do, and I expect him to take a big step.” (Pro Football Talk)
  • Kingsbury called Cardinals OT Marcus Gilbert the team’s best offensive lineman before he got hurt last year. (Kent Somers)
  • Kingsbury mentioned C A.Q. Shipley‘s status with the team was “still a work in progress.” (Josh Weinfuss)
  • With the additions of Phillips and LBs Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell, Kingsbury doesn’t think Arizona has any glaring holes on defense. (Weinfuss)

Rams

After moving on from RB Todd Gurley this offseason, the Rams now turn their attention to replacing their featured back. Gurley did a little bit of everything for Los Angeles, but the plan to replace him doesn’t rely on just one person. The Rams have 2019 third-round RB Darrell Henderson who they hope is ready for a bigger role and veteran backup Malcolm Brown. The Rams could add another runner in the coming draft. 

“What we want to be is a team that utilizes more than just one workhorse running the ball, have a different genre of skill sets and a complementary-type running game,” Rams GM Les Snead said via the Associated Press’ Greg Beacham. “We have this big-picture vision, Darrell being a part of it, but we do expect other pieces to be a big part of it as well.”

Vikings

Continuity is frequently cited as an advantage for NFL teams given the bulkiness of playbooks and how much turnover there is year over year with teams. That’s why the Vikings prioritized keeping senior offensive assistant Gary Kubiak in the building as offensive coordinator to replace Kevin Stefanski in 2020 and continue to help QB Kirk Cousins develop. Facing the prospect of no offseason program, that decision looks even better in retrospect. 

“It’s always growth with anybody going year from year, you see growth,” Vikings RB Dalvin Cook said via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “It’s going to be our third offensive coordinator, and it’s all about being in the right system. I think bringing back Coach Kubiak is good for Kirk and good for all of us because we love what Coach Koob brings to the table. I think he’s comfortable in that offense and can make plays.”

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