Munnerlyn on Antoine Winfield comparison: 'I stole some of his game'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said he likened himself to former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield long before local reporters started asking the question on Thursday.
The 5-foot-8-inch Munnerlyn has been battling the misconception that he's too small to play cornerback his entire career, even though he racked up 74 tackles for the Carolina Panthers' second-ranked defense last season.
"Everybody looks at me and say, 'ah, man he can't play, he's too short to play corner, he can't do this, he can't do that,'" Munnerlyn said. "When I first got to the NFL, my coach showed me tape of [Winfield] and he said, 'man, you remind me of Antoine Winfield.' And I was like, man. I started watching film on him and I stole some of his game. I don't hit as hard as he do, he can really bring it."
The Vikings top cornerback from last season, Chris Cook, had gone without an interception in 29 starts for the Vikings. In comes Munnerlyn, who has returned five of his seven career picks for touchdowns -- including each of his last four interceptions.
Munnerlyn may help fix two of the Vikings' biggest issues from one of the league's worst pass defenses last season: turnovers and a fix at nickel cornerback, where Josh Robinson failed to fill Winfield's massive shoes last season (in a position Robinson had never played before, in fairness).
"They need to make more plays on the ball, that's why they signed me," Munnerlyn said.
On paper, the Winfield comparisons don't seem like smoke and mirrors.
Munnerlyn has played in the nickel cornerback role for three seasons in Carolina and had his best statistical season last year -- finishing third on the Panthers' squad in tackles, leading the secondary. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he had been thrown at 98 times and allowed one touchdown.