Munnerlyn sees no battle for starting job

Captain Munnerlyn is confident in his abilities and never believed there was a battle for the starting job.

The battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite Xavier Rhodes might still be open, but not in Captain Munnerlyn’s mind.

Munnerlyn, who signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract that includes $4.45 million in guarantees with the Minnesota Vikings, sees the starting job as his now that he is back at practice after starting training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

“I never thought it was a battle,” Munnerlyn said. “I always just come out here and prepare like I’m a starter anyways, so I never thought it was a battle. When I heard about it or seen the people writing about it, I was just like, ‘I’m just on the sideline right now and I can’t do nothing about it.’ I never thought it was a battle, but I just come out and prepare like I’m the starter each and every day and that’s the way I prepare.”

Munnerlyn couldn’t practice at the beginning of training camp because of a hamstring injury and Josh Robinson was the getting the practice snaps with the starters. Then Robinson suffered a hamstring injury of his own and Munnerlyn returned, making the start Friday night in the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Last week, the Vikings released their initial depth chart and listed Munnerlyn and Robinson side by side as starters at left cornerback, opposite Rhodes.

Munnerlyn never viewed it as an even battle, believing his veteran status and savvy gave him the edge.

“I’m a smart guy. I’m a smart player. I’m feisty. I like to get up on in there, get up in your face and challenge you. I don’t mind tackling,” he said. “Playing outside corner, you can’t mind tackling because sometimes people get in sets to make you tackle and I don’t mind doing that. I just go out there and play football, be the guy that I am – a physical guy and a smart guy out there.”

Munnerlyn is the most experienced member of the Vikings secondary, starting 50 of the 77 NFL games he has played, including 16 starts last year for the Carolina Panthers, who ranked third in total defense. He also has returned five of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns, including all four of his interceptions over the last two years.

“In Carolina, we wanted to be physical, we wanted to be smart on the outside corners and be able to tackle,” Munnerlyn said. “Coach (Mike Zimmer) wants the same exact thing. It’s just different terminology and the stuff that we had to do.

“We’re going to be physical, we’re going to be smart, and like Coach Zim said, we’re going out-physical people and we’re going to out-hit them. We’re going to be physical, man, and that’s the key. If you see something and believe in it, you’ve got to go for it.”

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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