Munnerlyn wants to know his role

Captain Munnerlyn is working his way back into the Minnesota Vikings’ rotation at cornerback, at least he hopes so, but there’s uncertainty and seems to be some frustration.

Captain Munnerlyn is a bit confused. The veteran cornerback isn’t sure what his role will be with the Minnesota Vikings after a foot injury slowed his start to training camp.

Munnerlyn didn’t play in Sunday night’s preseason opener and he isn’t sure why. Neither is head coach Mike Zimmer.

“That’s a good question. We planned on him playing the 42 and Newman playing the nickel on third down and we didn’t get any in that series,” Zimmer said. “Then I pulled the rest of the (starters) out.”

Munnerlyn’s reaction?

“I thought I was playing and all the sudden the starters, they played like a couple snaps and they shut everybody down, so I was like, ‘Whoa!’” Munnerlyn said. “At the same time, I know they were taking it slow with me in training camp. I haven’t been practicing at outside corner yet. Today was my first day going out there and getting some reps outside so we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Munnerlyn has read where some people think he is on the roster bubble. While he doesn’t believe that’s the case, he also isn’t overly concerned about that line of thinking.

“I’m not concerned at all. I know I’m a football player. At the end of the day, I’m a football player,” he said. “Like I said, last year I didn’t feel like I played my best. At the same time, athletes have those years. I think my track record speaks for itself. I’m a competitor. I lay it out on the line each and every week. If I’m here or not, I’m just ready to play football and get to the basics of making plays.”

Munnerlyn believes his foot, injured during organized team activities in the spring, is “normal” now, but he admitted it isn’t game-tested yet and he’s not sure what – if any – role he will have in Saturday’s second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“If you’re not out there, you’re missing a lot of reps,” he said of the foot injury limiting him in early training camp practices. “I don’t know if there’s a little doubt in coach’s mind or not, but at the same time I’m a veteran. I’ve been around for a long time now. I know what it takes to get out there and make plays. That will silence everything.”

It would, but he also has to get into a game situation to make those plays. While he appeared mildly frustrated by not playing Sunday, he said it’s not time to have the sit-down talk with head coach Mike Zimmer.

“I don’t think it’s time for that yet. It’s still early, but at the same time I would like to know my role,” Munnerlyn said. “Everybody wants to know what’s their role on a football team. But right now is not the time.”

Munnerlyn has admitted numerous times that his first year as a Viking wasn’t his best in the NFL. He was trying to do too much, he said earlier in training camp, and that’s the same sentiment that Zimmer had on Munnerlyn late last year.

Now there’s plenty of competition for playing time. Xavier Rhodes I the starter on the right side. Veteran Terence Newman was brought in during free agency and the team drafted Trae Waynes in the first round. Jabari Price, a rookie last year, is also ascending but will have to serve a two-game suspension to start the season.

Last year was simply frustrating for Munnerlyn, despite starting all 16 games.

“I was always looking to the sideline, looking to see I’m doing stuff right and trying to please your coaches. That’s what you do, but at the same time I’ve got to be me. That’s the guy that I used to be in my career – making plays and getting excited and I started a little mess here and there,” he said.

“I think it was just getting the details of the system. It all played a part in it and trying to get everything right. You go out here and you try to please your coaches and it kind of slows you down a little bit and sometimes I didn’t play up to my ability. This year I feel like I’m more comfortable. I know I’m well-rested.”



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