There isn't much to get excited about when it comes to the Carolina Panthers.

For instance ...

• They are 5-8 with 10 players on injured reserve (nine more than the Vikings), including both starting offensive tackles, four defensive tackles and standout linebacker Thomas Davis.

• They're down to No. 3 quarterback Matt Moore, a nondescript player who became Jake Delhomme's primary backup when Josh McCown was lost for the season in Week 1. Moore, who is 3-2 in five career starts, will make his third consecutive start since replacing the injured Delhomme, who has a broken finger, a horrendous 59.4 passer rating and a surname that I believe is French for "picked off again."

• And No. 1 receiver Steve Smith is having such a quiet season that perhaps it's time we start calling him the "other Steve Smith" in deference to the Giants' Steve Smith.

There are, however, a few interesting aspects about this team heading into tonight's game against the Vikings at Bank of America Stadium.

For instance ...

• Running back DeAngelo Williams has rushed for 1,104 yards and a 5.3 average, .8 higher than Adrian Peterson.

• Defensive end Julius Peppers has 8 1/2 sacks.

• And, oh yeah, someone on the roster is actually named "Captain Munnerlyn."

"My momma promised my grandmomma that she could name the last child," Munnerlyn said. "I was the boy of the family, and she named me Captain. Her great grandfather was named Captain, so I got named after my great-great-grandfather."

As Captain put it, his sisters and brothers "got normal names."

"I got the odd name," he said. "In the beginning, it was kind of rough. Kids used to tease me a little, but it fits my personality, because I feel like I'm a leader."

Munnerlyn, a rookie seventh-round draft pick out of South Carolina, is the Panthers' nickelback, punt returner and without a doubt No. 1 Brett Favre fan.

"Growing up, I just loved Brett Favre," Munnerlyn told reporters this week. "I used to even watch some of his film [from when Favre played] at Southern Miss. That's not far from where I grew up [in Mobile, Ala.]. I actually almost went to Southern Miss because of Brett Favre."

Munnerlyn said Favre has been his favorite NFL player his whole life. At 21, he was 3 when Favre entered the league.

"I hope I don't get star-struck when he's under center," Munnerlyn said. "I'm out there playing and be like, 'Man, this is Brett Favre,' and he's like, 'Hike!'"

Munnerlyn is 12th on the Panthers with 34 tackles. He has one fumble recovery, two passes defensed and no interceptions.

Favre is a 68.1 percent passer with only six interceptions this season. So the odds of him throwing one to a rookie who has never had one on this level seems remote. But if it does happen, Munnerlyn already has decided he'll ask Favre to sign the ball.

Hey, what else would you expect from a guy who practically crawled out of his crib wearing a Favre jersey and a Packers Starter jacket?

Munnerlyn admits he might not have the guts to ask the future Hall of Famer directly to sign the ball. So he has two backup plans in the form of Vikings receiver Sidney Rice and linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Munnerlyn played with both of them at South Carolina.

"I'll probably send [the ball] to Sidney or Jasper and be like, 'Hey, tell Brett Favre to sign this ball,'" Munnerlyn said. "I don't know. It's going to be crazy out there playing against my favorite player."

Stat of the week

Peterson needs just 100 yards rushing over the final three regular-season games to join Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history to start their careers with three consecutive seasons of at least 1,300 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns. Campbell did it in his first four seasons (1978-81), while Sanders did it in his first three (1989-91).

Mark Craig •