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Diggs, Thielen Look Forward to Hearing from Old Friend Munnerlyn

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –The Vikings will see a familiar face – and hear a familiar voice – when they take the field at Carolina Sunday.

Munnerlyn spent the first five seasons of his pro career with the Panthers before playing for the Vikings from 2014-16 and returning to Carolina as a free agent prior to the 2017 season.

"He's a really good friend of mine, so it's going to be fun," Stefon Diggs told Twin Cities media members on Thursday. "I haven't seen him in a while, so that'll be nice."

Adam Thielen recalled a little good-natured trash talking from Munnerlyn during practices in Minnesota and said he wouldn't be surprised to get some grief from the slot corner this weekend. 

"I think that's the nature of being a defensive back. That's just the game of football, kind of everywhere in the NFL," Thielen said. "It's not really negative. It's all part of the game and kind of that competitive nature coming out, which is what you want."

Thielen went on to say that Munnerlyn was a "great teammate and really good football player" and that it will be fun to compete against him in a game setting.

Munnerlyn so far this season has 20 tackles, 2.0 sacks and two passes defensed in 11 games played.

"What they do is a lot different from what we do here, so the techniques are different and things like that, but he's the same old Captain," Thielen said. "We have a good relationship. He was a great teammate. I'm excited. I think it will be a fun little matchup. I know I'm going to get his best."

Munnerlyn told Carolina media members earlier this week that he stays in touch with a number of his former teammates.

"I still talk to those guys who were in my position [group]. Xavier Rhodes, all those guys, we're still in a group chat. They didn't delete me out of the group chat," Munnerlyn said with a laugh. "I still talk to Everson Griffen and a lot of those guys, so I still have a relationship with a lot of them. Actually, me and Kyle Rudolph were texting last week. It's going to be different. But at the same time, we need this as a team. Those guys are playing real well, and I'm excited to go out there and just compete."

While the Vikings pursue their ninth straight – and division-clinching – win, the Panthers (8-4) know that this game could help them move one step closer to overtaking the Saints for first place in the NFC South.

Munnerlyn was asked what he expects from Minnesota, and the 29-year-old first highlighted Case Keenum, who joined the Vikings via free agency about a month after Munnerlyn returned to Carolina.

"Case Keenum is playing lights-out. He's taking care of the football," Munnerlyn said. "Their receivers are getting open – Adam Thielen's having a great year. A guy that, when I was there, he was a special teams guy. And he got better and better. I was like, 'Man, who is this guy?' when I first got there. I knew he was going to be a player. He's very special. He runs great routes, he's got great hands.

"You add Stefon Diggs to the mix, man, he's special, also," Munnerlyn continued. "They've got a group of guys on offense. We know we have our hands full, but at the same time I know what this defense is capable of doing. So we have to go out there, we have to compete, and we have to try to contain those guys and try to make plays on the football."

While several Vikings look forward to crossing paths with Munnerlyn, both parties will be nothing but business come game time.

"I'm going to try to stay away from the group chat this week because I have to go out there and focus in," Munnerlyn told Carolina media. "I gotta lock in, I gotta compete."

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