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Vikings Roundup, 7/27: Captain More Pliable at '15 Camp

MANKATO, Minn. — Captain Munnerlyn's cap bill is tilted back, with the middle arching slightly below the side edges.

"Two years, baby," Munnerlyn said Monday of getting his hat comfortably broken in the way he wanted as he flashed a grin almost as wide as the bill.

Munnerlyn and the Vikings launched the team's 50th training camp in Mankato Sunday.

The 2014 free-agent addition said he can benefit from last season and plans to be more pliable to Head Coach Mike Zimmer's preferences of playing defensive back.

"Last year, it was a little difficult year for me, brand new to the system and stuff I wasn't used to and not used to my teammates," Munnerlyn said. "This year, I have no excuses. I've got to go out there and play football and make plays and do what I'm capable of doing."

Zimmer's preferred techniques differed from what Munnerlyn implemented in his first five seasons with the Panthers. He started all 16 games outside last season and also moved inside to cover the slot in the Vikings nickel package.

Munnerlyn, however, suffered a foot injury during the offseason program, which created more reps for coaches to work with 11th overall pick Trae Waynes in both spots during organized team activities.

"We'll keep throwing guys in there and keep looking at them and see where it goes," Zimmer said of the nickel position Sunday. "I kind of have a little plan, but we'll see if my plan works out or not."

Zimmer was asked specifically about Linval Joseph, who also joined the Vikings via free agency a year ago and said, "Almost always the guy that comes in as a free agent into a new system, his second year is almost always much better than the first year."

Munnerlyn said, "I definitely understand that feeling."

"Last year, I was trying to adjust to his style of play, his scheme and the way he wanted me to play football," Munnerlyn said. "I was locked into a system for five years and so locked into that, 'I'd rather do it this way and see how it goes' instead of buying into his system. I've got to be all-in. I'm willing to learn and I think I've got it now. I've got to produce and make plays. I'm definitely expecting this year to be a whole lot better."

Munnerlyn said he's still working his way back into "football shape."

"Missing time always sets you back, but at the end of the day, I'm a veteran," Munnerlyn said. "I know what it takes to get back out there and make my presence known and make more plays than they make on you."

OLD AND YOUNG:The Vikings added cornerbacks at each end of Munnerlyn's experience level this offseason, signing 13-year pro Terence Newman and drafting Waynes.

View images from the Sunday, July 26 practice at Verizon Vikings Training Camp.

"T-Newman and me, we're the old guys, we always talk about that, but T-Newman is way older than me," Munnerlyn said. "We always rag on him about being the old guy, and other guys say, 'Captain, you're not too far off,' so we've got a very nice mix of guys that can teach each other the game, and the young guys coming in are listening to us.

"(Waynes is) doing a great job. They've got him all over the place right now," Munnerlyn added. "They're trying to teach him a lot of different things, and I think he's doing very well with that. It's tough to be in the NFL period, and when you're trying to teach a guy three to four positions, it's very tough. I think he's doing a great job. He's a fast learner, and I'm expecting great things from him this year."

Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said Newman's previous experience — six seasons playing for Zimmer — is helping younger players.

"He's a true pro," Edwards said. "He's going to come in, you know what you're getting every day. Consistency is a big deal for us, especially on defense. Knowing what you're going to get every day, play in and play out. Recognition, communication, all those things. And he comes in familiar with the system and understands what we're trying to get accomplished."

DORM TO RETIREMENT HOME? Vikings camp marked the first time for Newman to stay in a dorm since 1999 at Kansas State when Waynes was 7.

"I haven't been in a dorm since my freshman year in college," Newman said. "Everybody has to do it. I think it's kind of cool, makes you feel a little young again, not really, but."

Newman has consistently practiced at a high level at the starting corner spot opposite Xavier Rhodes this offseason.

"I'm looking forward to playing until I'm 55, maybe," Newman said. "I'm happy to have a job and be able to compete and do what I still love to do. A lot of people can't say that."

RANKING RANKERS: The NFL offseason could also be called listing season, where multiple comparisons are made between players until the next opportunity to hit the field.

Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner was asked about Teddy Bridgewater's placement in the rankings conversation.

"You try not to pay attention to those things or see them. I see some of the rankings and none of them matter because, obviously, how he plays is the key," Turner said. "I have not been around very many guys, there are only four or five guys I would trust in talking to and evaluating quarterbacks because I don't think there are many guys that understand what you're trying to do at the position and understand the evaluation process. That really makes those evaluations less meaningful. The one evaluation we care about is ours, and I think based on where we got to last year and where we think we're going, I think we have a top-flight quarterback."

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