“I didn’t play my best football. I pulled hamstring early, started on the (Physically Unable to Perform) list. I just wasn’t myself,” he said. “I wasn’t myself. So I just had to go back to the drawing board. Gone back to the drawing board and I’m excited again, and ready to play.”
He does not want to have another season like the one he had a year ago. Now he has been working hard during the offseason to get to a place, physically, where he feels comfortable.
“I started a little early,” Munnerlyn said. “Normally, I wait till after the Super Bowl. This year I started early. I went to the drawing board early, try and get this weight off me and, like I said, try to focus on my speed, try to get my speed. I’ve got a hard duty, man; just chase those fast guys in the slot. I got to chase some of those guys down. For all the age, for all the time, I know my time and I know my size. I’m 27 now, been in the league going on seven years, so I got some work to do. But like I said, I’m excited for the opportunity to come back here and show what I’m capable of doing.
“I probably lost, probably about 10; 10, 12 pounds, in that range. But like I said, I feel good. I changed my diet. I don’t eat red meat and all that other stuff like I used to. So I’m excited. I’m on my LeBron James diet. That’s what I call it.”
The 2015 season could see a lot of changes in the type of role that Munnerlyn is asked to play compared to the one he played in 2014. Toward the end of last year, head coach Mike Zimmer said that he originally planned to use Munnerlyn as a slot defender that comes in when the nickel package is on the field.
Even if Zimmer sees the cornerback as a slot defender and not an outside cornerback, that is not how Munnerlyn sees it. He still thinks of himself as an every-down type of cornerback and wants to be able to go out and prove that. But at the same time he said if he were asked to just play nickel he would still do that.
“I’m a competitor, man,” he said. “I just don’t see myself as a nickel back. That’s just me. I see myself as an every-down corner. I want to be on the field every single down. But if the process works out and I’m just a nickel, I’m going to be the best nickel I can be. I’m going to be the best nickel in the NFL, that’s how I look at it. I’m just, like I said, I’m excited just to get the opportunity just to be back here. Like I said, I know I didn’t have my best year of football, but I get the opportunity to be back here with these guys, with Coach Zim and defensive coaches and go out there and show what I really can do.”
It may be difficult for Munnerlyn to earn the job of an every down cornerback again this year. Xavier Rhodes basically has the No. 1 cornerback position solidified after his performance last year, but the cornerback spot opposite him is still up for grabs. Munnerlyn would have to once again beat out Josh Robinson and then also beat out newly added free agent Terence Newman.
Not only does he have to beat both of them out, but there has also been a lot of speculation that the Vikings will be drafting a cornerback with one of their early-round draft picks. If that is the case, there is a strong possibility that they could earn the other starting cornerback spot.
But Munnerlyn has never been one to shy away from competition. He welcomes all the new challenges that he has to face this season and says that they just make him work harder.
“It just makes me go harder,” Munnerlyn said. “I’m a guy, I got big shoulders. I don’t mind who they draft or who they go get. I just know I got to go out there and play better than I did last year. I didn’t play my best football. I’ve been speaking it all offseason, so that’s been in the back of my mind. I’m excited just to get back on the field and prove these people wrong around here.”