In the second round of this year’s NFL draft, the Vikings selected cornerback Mackensie Alexander to one day supplant slot specialist Captain Munnerlyn, perhaps even this season.
Munnerlyn’s immediate reaction? Bring it on.
“When they drafted that guy, it lit a fire under me again,” Munnerlyn, the scrappy, undersized eight-year veteran said Wednesday morning. “It’s going to make me go out there and play even harder, even better. Competition always brings out the best of me. I’m not a guy who will shy away from it.”
After an up-and-down debut season in Minnesota in 2014, the 28-year-old was much better in 2015. But his three-year contract will expire after this season, so the Vikings had an eye to the future when drafting Alexander.
“I would love to be here. But they did bring in a younger guy to compete, so we’ll see how it goes,” Munnerlyn said. “I know what type of player I am. I know what I can do. So I’m excited about the challenge and this season.”
Alexander did not participate in Wednesday’s organized team activity at Winter Park. Munnerlyn, meanwhile, manned his usual spot in the slot when the Vikings defense used its first-team nickel personnel group in practice.
Even though Alexander would like to steal that role along with his playing time, Munnerlyn said he will aid the rookie in his transition to the NFL ranks.
“That’s my teammate at the end of the day,” Munnerlyn said. “I’m not the type of guy who will tell a guy to go right when he is supposed to go left.”
One punter for now
At their rookie minicamp in May, the Vikings auditioned a pair of punters, Texas Tech’s Taylor Symmank and West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole. But at weekend’s end they opted to not immediately sign either of them, leaving fourth-year veteran Jeff Locke as the only punter on their 90-man roster.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Wednesday that the Vikings haven’t ruled out adding another punter at some point this offseason. The performance of Locke in spring workouts will be the determining factor.
“I think it depends on how Jeff does the rest of the spring,” Priefer said. “We had two good, young rookie punters at minicamp that performed very, very well. So we know those guys are out there if we need to go that route.”
Sullivan with first team
During their one OTA practice that was open to media last week, Joe Berger lined up as the Vikings’ first-team center. This Wednesday, John Sullivan was the one snapping the ball to starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
With Sullivan back in the mix after missing the entire 2015 season because of a back injury, the Vikings might continue to alternate Sullivan and Berger, who started every game at center in 2015, as they look to pick a starter.
“We’ve got a good mix on the offensive line,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “Getting Sully back is big — a veteran player who is a really good player. We all know Joe stepped in and played extremely well last year.”
Still no Barr, Floyd
After sitting out last Wednesday’s open OTA, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd remained sidelined this Wednesday because of undisclosed injuries. Running back Adrian Peterson also was held out of practice, as were offensive linemen Mike Harris and Austin Shepherd, tight end Rhett Ellison and linebacker Travis Lewis.
Nose tackle Linval Joseph, on the mend from offseason toe surgery, participated in individual drills before working in a sand pit with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman. Defensive lineman Scott Crichton joined them. Neither Joseph nor Crichton appeared in team drills.
Left tackle Matt Kalil was back on the field practicing and lined up with the first team.
• Young fan Obadiah Gamble of “Hey Teddy” fame was a guest of the Vikings at Wednesday’s practice.
• Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle also attended the practice and spent about 15 minutes chatting with Joseph and Floyd.
• Defensive tackle B.J. Dubose, who tore an ACL last week, cleared waivers and is now on injured reserve.