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Opposing View: Panthers vs. Vikings

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer

On wide receiver Stefon Diggs' season so far:"Stefon is a very, very hard worker. He catches the ball very well. He runs good routes. He's very competitive. He's a good kid and does a lot of good things."

On game planning against the Panthers without Jonathan Stewart playing: "A lot of it is you prepare for the scheme and then you're aware of the back that's in there, whichever back it ends up being. We try to prepare for everybody the same way and make sure we're prepared for whoever the backs are in the game. We just try to be prepared for everybody who has a chance to be active on game day whether it's Stewart or Fozzy Whittaker or Cameron Artis-Payne."

On Captain Munnerlyn's personality:"That's a good one. He's got a good personality. When he first got here, he was kind of not himself, I think. He's really changed his attitude and he's really played a lot better since his first year. He's very competitive. He's got a little bit of the little-man's disease. He's going to fight you all the time. I think he's come a long way."

On what he saw in Fozzy Whittaker when watching film on the Panthers: "I think he's explosive. He catches the ball out of the backfield well. He's really a good bounce runner. I thought he ran well in between the tackles. He's a good player. I know that Jonathan Stewart's a really good player, but I think Whittaker is a very good player too."

His thoughts on Cam Newton so far this season: "I think he's played well. To me since last time we played him, he's so much more improved and in command of the offense. The way that he doesn't get rattled under pressure, he's able to scramble and find the seams. I think these receivers have helped him quite a bit. I think they do a good job in the run game. They do a good job in protection. I was telling somebody last night, the maturation of him from two years ago is like night-and-day from where he was then to now."

On what was effective in the 2014 game on limiting Cam Newton's explosive play: "It was like 12 degrees (laughs). That might have helped a little bit but I just think he has really matured and come into his own a lot. I'm not around him so I don't know, from just what I've seen on tape, that's what I can tell."

On how difficult it is to prepare for an offense like the Panthers even though he has seen a lot of different offenses: "Extremely. It makes Tuesdays bad days around here when we're doing the game planning and stuff like that, because they have so many weapons. You know obviously the quarterback can run. He can throw the ball deep down the field. They have Ted Ginn Jr. who's a big play guy waiting to happen. Greg Olsen is an unbelievable, I think he's a tremendous tight end. He may be the best, I don't know off the top of my head who is better. The size of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, these guys, they just make it difficult. Obviously I'm impressed with talent but they have been impressive there with the offensive line and them being able to handle pressures and protections and all the different things that they do. I think they do a great job. I think they are coached very well."

On the decision to release Kurt Coleman during his first season as a coach: "Yeah, you know that's probably one of the mistakes that we made, that I made. It was my first year here. He was hurt for a while and it never really jumped out at you. But obviously he had an unbelievable year. He's a great kid. He worked real hard when he was here. You know, we probably made a mistake but I'm glad he's doing well."

On how Sam Bradford is fitting into the offense: "It's been a real credit to him and the way he is worked and our entire offensive staff. I think that it helped that we had Pat Shurmur here and he had been with Sam before. But you know Scott Turner and Norv Turner put in a lot of time with him. It's one game so we're not going to make a bust of him yet but he has, he did a really nice job of preparing for that last ball game."

On how his team and coaches are preparing with the familiarity and connections between the mhtchup this week: "I think you know obviously it's more for Norv and Scott Turner than it is for me. But I know that they communicated a lot with those guys down there. It's probably like a little bit of a rivalry game. I know Norv's nephew (assistant wide receivers coach Cameron Turner) is down there. You know, I've got a lot of respect for Ron Rivera and what he's done. Defensively, Sean McDermott does a fantastic – you know I've known Sean for a long time. You know it's good to have friends but when you're playing on Sunday, you don't have any."

On if the hiring of Head Coach Ron Rivera boosted his morale since he had a similar career path: "Yeah, I don't know if it boosted my morale but I'm always happy for guys that put in the work and put in the time, that have results and then they get the opportunity as opposed to guys who is the new hot young guy. I think I have a respect for people that try to do things the right way. I don't think Ron was a big politician and neither was I. I think it's good for, when people get promotions based on what they've done."

On his predictions of both defenses with both teams' starting running backs questionable for Sunday: "You know, I can't speak for their defense. It's going to be a full day of terror for us, our defense to try to slow these guys down. I mean they have so many weapons, even in the running game, the things they do. I think their backs will be very efficient and then you throw the combination of Cam Newton being able to run. They've had 29 consecutive 100-yard rushing games down there so I understand that they are missing a piece and we are missing a piece but you don't really get away from your roots and what got you there. They play great defense, they've got a good running game and they throw the ball vertically down the field. I think that's what they will continue to do. We haven't been running the ball very well anyway but we need to run the ball better than we have in the first two ball games."

Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn

On if he is looking forward to playing in Carolina: "Oh yeah, so excited, so excited. The place that drafted me and to come back and play in that stadium. It's going to be different but at the same time, I'm excited to compete against my old teammates."

On if it was difficult adjusting to Minnesota:"Yes, initially. Being in the system at Carolina for five years where I knew all the guys, I knew all my teammates, I knew the system, different things. Coming to Minnesota, a different climate, different teammates, different coaches. I wasn't myself. I admit I wasn't myself. I didn't play up to my standards and I know I didn't play up to my coaches or my teammates' standards. So I had to go back to the drawing board and take it back to my Carolina days and try to train harder and get in better shape and start listening to my coaches. I knew that it was a different system so I had to be more detailed with the scheme work and the things I had to do."

On how Cam Newton is different from when he played with him: "Oh man, he has been a tremendous athlete, a tremendous quarterback, one of the best in the league. He just took his game to the next level. His reading coverage is a whole lot better. He's running the ball well. He can make every throw, man, he can make every single throw on the football field. He's been doing that since I was there. He's just taking his game to the next level. He's trusting the system. He's trusting his teammates and he's going out there and running the ship for those guys." On if it was difficult to unlearn the Panthers defense:"In a way I'm going to say it was and a way it wasn't. But at the same time, like I said, it was just totally different. It was a totally different situation, a totally different scheme. And how all those guys that wanted me to play in Carolina, I got formatted and used to doing that. I was there for five years and I knew and they knew what they expected out of me and I knew what was expected out of my coaches. Going to a different place was a little different. I had to really just flush everything I learned at Carolina away and learn a whole new system. You know it took me a while to adjust and learn the system and learn what Coach Zimm (head coach Mike Zimmer) wanted me to do so I just had to start over from ground zero. I feel like I've got it now and I feel like I'm comfortable in the scheme and I'm comfortable with what he wants me to do."

On which receiver he is most excited to play against: "Oh man, all of those guys. Me and Ted Ginn Jr., we still talk here and there so I'm excited to go against him. To be honest with you, I'm excited to go against Kelvin Benjamin and I know everybody is saying the size difference between me and him but our guys know me. I've got Little Man's Syndrome. I want to show people that I can cover him (laughs)."

On Coach Mike Zimmer's Little Man's Syndrome comment: "Me and Coach Zimmer are somewhat alike, that's why I think he likes that. That I have Little Man's Syndrome. We're kind of alike in that department (laughs)."

On how he thinks the Panthers offense has progressed over the years: "They are running the ball extremely well. I think they've got the number one rushing offense in the NFL. They run the ball very well. Cam Newton is taking care of the football and he's finding the open guys. Greg Olsen, I'm telling you, he's a beast! He's been going out there. Last week I think he had like a 77-yard touchdown. He's still running by people, still looking young. The offensive line has been doing a tremendous job of protecting Cam and when he's making checks back there, he's taking over and those guys are playing tremendous. I think they have the number one rush offense and like I said, those guys have really taken their game to a whole other level."

On his relationship with Thomas Davis: "When I came in, he took me under his wing. He's a great guy, on and off the field. His story and the things he's been through in life are just overwhelming to me. He looks at me like a little brother. He always talked to me, always checked on me every week to see how I'm doing and things like that. Our relationship just grew since I was in Carolina and we just got stronger and stronger. I've just been looking up to him since I got to the NFL and he's been a great role model for me to look up to."

On how he will feel during warmups being back on the field with former teammates: "I think it's going to be a little emotional at first. Just to see those guys and to play against those guys, it's going to be kind of different but at the same time, I know I have a job to do and that's to go out there and compete and try to help my team get that win. But at the same time, it's going to be a little different. I know I'm going to laugh and joke with those guys but when the whistle blows, it's all go for me and I'm ready to play football and ready to compete and try to help my team to get that win."

On if it was difficult to find a new employer after the Panthers:"Yes, it was. It was kind of tough. But at the same time, I know it's a business. The NFL is a business so I definitely had to make the right decisions for me and my family. Like I said, I spent five years in Carolina. That's the team that drafted me, that gave me the opportunity to get my game to the next level so they will always have a special place in my heart. But at the same time, I had to just make the right decision for me and my family."

On if he could predict the Panthers success after the 2014 Minnesota game:"You could see it. When I was there we went 12-4 my last year there. Coach Rivera did a great job rallying his troops and getting everybody together. He's a great coach. All the guys had to do was buy into the system and buy into the things he'd like to do. Those guys did that and you see with the success from last year going 15-1 in the regular season, went on to win their division and went to the Super Bowl. They fell a little short in the Super Bowl but at the same time, those guys played their tails off. Coach Rivera and the coaches, it's about winning. He always wanted to win. He always put that in place even when I was there. I could see those guys that it was going to be on the up from there. After we beat them two years ago, Cam had a wreck and it seemed like their season all turned around from there. Guys bought in, guys got hungry. Those guys got hungry for the good and it paid off for those guys."

On why nickel backs should play in the Pro Bowl: "It's tough! It's one of the toughest positions on the field and if you look around the league, you play a lot of your snaps. If you look at last week at Green Bay, I think out of 68 snaps, I played 59 of those. It's like man, wow, I'm playing almost the entire game. If a fullback can make the Pro Bowl and these other guys can make the Pro Bowl, why not nickel backs? It's a position. You have slot receivers making the Pro Bowl, why not nickel backs? We do the same exact job as those guys. We go out there, we compete, we have great numbers and we go out there and do it at a high level."

His thoughts on Stefon Diggs' success: "It's his hands. He's got great hands on great routes, great short area quickness. He can get in and out of cuts, he's a total package. This guy is going to be very special. We know he's a young guy but at the same time, he's ready to take that next step. He's getting in and out of the cuts like nobody I've seen. He reminds a little of Antonio Brown. He catches the ball very well. He's very competitive and he wants to be great."

What he plans to do to combat Kelvin Benjamin's size: "I will just try to disrupt the line of scrimmage. I've got to play the ball through his hands. Everybody knows if there's a jump ball, the guy is like 6'6", nine times out of 10, he's going to win those but I will try to play within his body and try to play through his hands and try to get my hands on a couple footballs."

On how he thinks the fans will treat him: "I remember in 2010 when Julius Peppers came back with the Chicago Bears and every time he made a play, they booed him. I don't think they will do that to me. Everybody knows it's the business side and you know I just went where the best situation was for me and my family. I don't think they will boo me or things like that. I don't know, it's going to be a little different feeling being on the visitor's side but at the same time, it's going to be a little emotional, but at the same time, I'm excited to go out there and play against those guys."

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