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Munnerlyn: Vikings DBs Must Keep Eyes on 'Luggage'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn doesn't want to lose his "luggage" on his first trip to Lambeau Field.

He was referring to Packers receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb instead of a Samsonite.

Munnerlyn, a free agent signee this offseason, is new to the border battle between Minnesota and Green Bay, but teammates have shared the familiarity they've gained over the years. A key point that's come up is the way Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can move around the pocket to extend plays and allow receivers to break loose from defenders with the extra time.

"He can extend the plays and find open receivers," Munnerlyn said. "His receivers know how to get open. You can have them covered but they uncover themselves very well, so we've got to do a great job of keeping our eyes on our luggage."

The Vikings (2-2, 0-0 NFC North) visit the Packers (2-2, 1-1 NFC North) at 7:25 p.m. (CT) Thursday on CBS/NFL Network.

Munnerlyn's only prior game against the Packers was as a member of the Panthers in 2011. Carolina held Green Bay in check in the first half, but Rodgers connected with former Packer Greg Jennings for a 49-yard touchdown to take a lead early in the third quarter and with Nelson for an 84-yard TD late in a 30-23 win. Munnerlyn recorded a pair of passes defensed in that game.

For the second straight week, the Vikings will face the NFL leader in receiving yards. Nelson has 459 yards on a league-leading 33 receptions. Atlanta's Julio Jones entered Sunday's game as the league leader in yards (365), but Minnesota was able to limit Jones to 82 yards on six catches with a long play of 21 yards in its 41-28 victory. Green Bay's passing attack contrasts with Atlanta's in large part because of Rodgers' movement to extend the plays.

Josh Robinson, who joins Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes when the Vikings add an additional cornerback, said plays usually last five to seven seconds, but against the Packers, "it's going to be like eight to 10 seconds."

"You have that clock in your mind where you think, 'OK, it should be a sack' and you want to look back, but you've just got to train yourself to keep covering regardless," Robinson said. "If he's moving, keep moving. If the receiver is standing there, you've just got to keep looking at him, because sometimes that's what happens on film."

Robinson said the defense has responded well to playing more man coverage this season than in years past because it allows corners to challenge receivers at the line of scrimmage. Other action near the line of scrimmage — particularly an effective pass rush — can help defensive backs, and the favor can be returned, said defensive end Everson Griffen.

"The biggest thing for us is we've got to contain (Rodgers) and put pressure on him and if he does, the DBs have got to be able to plaster them and keep their eye on their work and allow us to go," Griffen said. "If they can hold (the coverage) for one more second, we're going to get back there to get a hit on Aaron Rodgers."

Minnesota has recorded eight sacks this season (two each by Griffen, Anthony Barr and Tom Johnson and one apiece by Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph). Green Bay has allowed 10 sacks.

Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday that he considers Rodgers the "best in the league against the blitz" and wants his team to continue to improve its pass rush as a unit.

"We have actually pressured OK, what we haven't done is rush smart," Zimmer said. "We have to rush a lot smarter and same thing with this quarterback. If we give him an opportunity to get out of the pocket a lot of times, a lot of bad things happen."

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