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Harrison Smith Reps Munnerlyn with 'In Captain We Trust' Shirt

MANKATO, Minn. –Veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn takes pride in thriving in the Vikings nickel package on defense, and his teammates seem to have full trust in him to play that role, too.

The Vikings secondary is taking its backing of the nickel back to another level.

When safety Harrison Smith addressed the media Friday morning, he was wearing a customized shirt that displays his teammates' faith in Munnerlyn.

The shirt features Munnerlyn's face on the nickel coin where President Thomas Jefferson's would be.

"It looks like him doesn't it," Smith said. "Yea, 'In Cap we trust' is what it says. The Public Relations guys made these, so I gotta represent them."

Munnerlyn laughed, telling, "I don't have nothing to do with them man."

Munnerlyn signed with the Vikings in 2014 as a free agent. He played outside and then moved inside to defend the slot when Minnesota deployed its nickel package (five defensive backs). Last season, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer had Munnerlyn concentrate on the nickel role while Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman manned the outside cornerback spots.

"It's not an easy job at all," Munnerlyn said. "I take pride in it and try to be the best one I can be. Like I been saying, I'm the best person for the job, the best nickel in the league."

The 28-year-old excelled in his second season with the Vikings compiling 55 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack. He also returned a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown in the Vikings Week 17 defeat of the Packers.

Munnerlyn found his niche and has fully embraced the nickel back position after seven seasons in the NFL. The defense has become more prevalent with NFL teams airing it out more in recent years.

The Vikings also play a pair of games each against divisional opponents Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers; all quarterbacks who have established passing pedigrees.

"The more time I'm on the field the more time I get to go out there and make some plays. I love it. You play against the Packers who come out in a three wide receiver set all the time."

He has even gone so far to make a case this offseason that the nickel back should be a position included in the Pro Bowl.

"You play a lot," Munnerlyn added. "If you look at it man they have slot receivers in the Pro Bowl. Why can't a nickel back be an All Pro?

"It's a position. If slot receivers can make an impact in the game, I feel like the nickel back is the same thing."

Munnerlyn has always had a strong presence in the locker room and been one of the jokesters on the team.

"We kind of make fun of Captain because he always puts 24's on all of his hats and all of his stuff," Smith said. "It was kind of a joke. But honestly, the shirt fits really good, so that's why I like it."

Zimmer was asked if he had one of the shirts when he stepped to the podium after Smith.

"No I don't, I try to stay away from him as much as possible," he laughed.

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