NFC Notes: Lions, Panthers, Vikings

     

Lions

  • Per MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, Lions QB Matthew Stafford said he wasn’t really bothered by the trade report that came out about him earlier this year. He talked to Lions GM Bob Quinn and HC Matt Patricia who told him it was false and that settled it for him. 
  • Stafford added his back hasn’t given him any problems in workouts with his receivers this offseason and he could play if the season started right now. (Meinke)
  • Lions LB Jarrad Davis said he can’t really predict what his role is going to be this season after Detroit declined his fifth-year option and he’s just focusing on what he can control. (Michael Rothstein)

Panthers

The last time Panthers QB P.J. Walker was on an NFL team, he was competing for a spot with the Colts at the start of last season. When Andrew Luck surprisingly retired, Walker thought he had a chance at the backup role. Instead, Indianapolis traded for Brian Hoyer and cut him instead of Chad Kelly.  

“I thought I had an opportunity. But things happened and I just didn’t get an opportunity to take full advantage of it,” Walker said via Myles Simmons of the team website. “Now I’m just looking forward to going back out there — just getting that opportunity to go out there and compete and show guys what I’m capable of again.”

Now Walker is back in the NFL with the Panthers competing for the backup job again, only this time he has a wildly successful stint in the XFL under his belt. Walker had 15 touchdown passes in five games and was running away with the MVP award before the league had to shutter its season prematurely. Seven NFL teams had interest but his experience with his former coach in college, Panthers HC Matt Rhule, gave Carolina the edge. Walker will battle 2019 third-round QB Will Grier for the No. 2 spot behind Teddy Bridgewater

“It was just me being familiar with him and knowing what he likes to do, knowing his style of coaching,” Walker said. “I’m just trying to make the most of the opportunity, and this situation was the best for me.”

Vikings

The Vikings head into the 2020 season with a big crop of fresh starters, particularly on the defensive side of the football. Vikings HC Mike Zimmer has to figure out how to replace starters like DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph and his top three cornerbacks last season — Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. Oddly enough, Zimmer seems more excited about the challenge than having an established defense. 

“It reminds me, honestly, of college when we had five defensive starters graduate and you’ve got young guys come in and you’ve got redshirt freshmen and you’ve got to get them ready to play,” Zimmer said via Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “That part kind of energizes us as coaches as far as, ‘OK, let’s figure out what this guy can do, how fast he can do it, and then how can we teach him the best way to be prepared to get out there and play?’”

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