CHARLOTTE – Before last week's game against the Jets, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn had only missed four games in his entire nine-year career. He did everything he could to keep that number from increasing to five, but it wasn't to be.
"It was very frustrating. I was very mad. I didn't want to miss that game," said Munnerlyn, who was ruled out due to illness and did not travel with the team. "I even told Coach Rivera I would fly myself there. I didn't want to get the team sick, so I'll buy my own ticket and do what I have to do to get to the game. I don't miss games. I pride myself on being on the field and playing on Sundays.
"It was hard to watch on TV but I'm happy my team got the win."
Munnerlyn said he yelled in celebration – and nearly dropped his son in the process – when Luke Kuechly scooped and scored and when Kaelin Clay returned a punt for a touchdown to push Carolina to victory over New York.
But it was tough for him to watch Carolina's secondary struggle to defend big plays through the air. Wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in touchdown passes of 33 and 54 yards and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse had a 42-yard catch-and-run. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks voiced his displeasure when he met with reporters Monday.
"Disappointed with our inconsistency, particularly the big, explosive plays we gave up on the back end," Wilks said. "That's totally uncharacteristic of us and our play and the things that we do."
Added Munnerlyn: "As I watched it on TV, I knew the calls they were in and we just didn't execute. We have to be better. We can't make those mistakes, especially this week against this great quarterback."
Wilks went on to say that Saints quarterback Drew Brees "can exploit you in every area," and if the Jets exploited Carolina with shot-plays through the air, you can expect Brees to try to do the same.
"We have to compete," Munnerlyn said, "and make plays on the football."
Munnerlyn is thankful he'll have a chance to do that. While missing last week's game was difficult, having to sit out this one with first place in the NFC South on the line would have been much more painful for the veteran nickel corner who grew up a couple of hours away from the Superdome in Mobile, Al.
"We know what is at stake," said Munnerlyn, who returned to practice Wednesday. "We took it personal last time because they beat us in our house. We have a chance to play them in their house and take the lead in our division.
"I'm back this week and I'm excited."
View photos from the week of practice leading up to the Panthers game against the Saints.