CHARLOTTE – Ryan Kalil's parents and sister will travel to the Panthers' game at Minnesota on Sunday, but seeing Kalil in action won't be the only reason for their visit.
Ryan's brother, Matt, is in his second season as the Vikings' starting left tackle after Minnesota made him the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. In addition, their sister, Danielle, will sing the national anthem before kickoff.
"For my family, it's extremely exciting. I know my parents are really proud," Kalil said. "It will be exciting for me and for my family to look across the field and see Matt on the sideline, but then after that we will quickly transition into game mode.
"Regardless of who is over there, we've got to win this game."
Ryan Kalil got to pay even closer attention to his younger brother's rookie season than he would have wanted given that it came at the expense of his season. Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Kalil going on injured reserve with a foot injury.
"He most certainly in my opinion is back to the form he was before the injury," head coach Ron Rivera said of the three-time Pro Bowl center. "On that screen pass to Ted Ginn (last Sunday at Arizona), he got all the way out, got downfield and was able to pick off the safety.
"He's moving very well and playing very solid football."
Kalil talks to his younger brother at least once a week and after most games and that is still willing to play the role of big brother when asked.
"I talked to him yesterday, tried to get him to slip with some information. He didn't give up too much stuff," Kalil said. "If he wants to hear my opinion about stuff, I usually watch him every Monday when we come in. For the most part, he's playing pretty well. He doesn't need a whole lot of advice from me."
COACH SPEAK: The Kalil brothers aren't the only pair on opposing sides of Sunday's game that speak on a weekly basis. Rivera and Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier go way back.
"We probably won't talk this week on the phone, but our friendship goes way, way back to our playing days as teammates," said Frazier, who played on the Chicago Bears with Rivera for three seasons in the mid-1980s. "We stay in touch, we talk all the time. Our wives are friends, and he's a good friend."
The feelings are mutual.
"He's a heck of a person," Rivera said. "Leslie is one of my closest friends and one of the few guys who is a spiritual confidant for me. Leslie is a very special individual."
The two coached together for the first four years (1999-2002) of Andy Reid's tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Even though the statistics are impressive, it's hard for members of the Panthers defense to be proud of what they've done so far in 2013.
Through four games, Carolina is allowing 14.5 points and 301.5 yards per game – good for third in the NFL in both categories.
But the Panthers are 1-3, and that's the critical statistic.
"If we don't win, we pretty much feel like it doesn't count," rookie defensive tackle Kawann Short said. "And as a defense, I wouldn't say we're happy about (being ranked third in two major categories) because this is what we expect. This is what we've been working on since the first day I got here. It is a good thing that we're accomplishing it, but at the end of the day we're trying to win."
Linebacker Chase Blackburn said the defense is aware of where it stands statistically, but the unit is more concerned about areas that need improvement and winning.
"You obviously are aware, but you don't put an emphasis on it," Blackburn said. "We can give up 35 points and get the Ws, and then it is what it is. I've been a part of defenses that give up some yards and points but still get the wins on the board.
"For us, it is important that we keep sight of that, because we are doing some good things. We've played some good games. First halves, we've really been putting it together. Late in the game we've given up some yardage and given up some points."
MCNUTT'S NEW START: Wide receiver Marvin McNutt had just taken part in the Miami Dolphins 2013 team photo Tuesday. Then, he found out he was going to be a Carolina Panther.
"I was part of the team for part of the day," McNutt said, smiling.
He's an active member of his new team, as the Panthers signed McNutt to the active roster off the Dolphins' practice squad.
The 2012 sixth-round draft choice by the Eagles – who finished his college career as Iowa's all-time leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns – played in four games without recording any statistics as a rookie.
"The start to my NFL career is kind of like the start of any sport I've played since I was a kid. I've always been put in a situation where I've had to do a little extra and work a little harder," McNutt said.
"I didn't play football until I was a sophomore in high school and ended up becoming one of the better quarterbacks. Went to college and kind of stumbled wanting to be a quarterback. They changed me to wide receiver and next thing you know, I'm the all-time leader. It's a matter of perseverance and how you handle adversity."
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (hamstring) continues to miss practice, and defensive tackle Colin Cole had limited participation for the second consecutive day.
But Rivera is hopeful that Cole will return to action Friday and is confident in the other players at the position. Rookies Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short are off to strong starts, and Sione Fua has fit the bill since being re-signed Sept. 11 after being waived in the final roster cutdown.
"Sione has done a nice job," Rivera said. "Sione came down to numbers after we drafted the guys we did and after Colin Cole had a very good camp. When we had an opportunity, we brought Sione back. That shows you how we felt about him."
Robert Lester (hamstring) did not participate for the second consecutive day but could return Friday, and tight end Greg Olsen (foot) fully participated after sitting out Wednesday.
Senior writer Bryan Strickland and staff writer Max Henson contributed to this report.