• Panthers receiver Russell Shepard worked out with Case Keenum the past three offseasons and will oppose him on Sunday. He told ESPN he is not at all surprised by Keenum’s success with the Vikings this season: “I know the challenges of being a guy that’s undrafted, a guy that expectations aren’t high for you, you don’t have the physical skill sets that a first-round pick has and the franchise guy has. When you can stay in the league [as long as Keenum has], it says something about your mentality.” Shepard, a native of Houston, also went undrafted out of LSU but is now in his fifth NFL season.
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on facing the great Panthers linebacker Julius Peppers: “I’ve seen him do so many things. … It doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any.”
• Former Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said he left “millions on the table” in March to return to the Panthers, where he was a seventh-round pick in 2009. Asked how he feels about the Vikings’ success, he said: “To see those guys 10-2, I’m happy for them. But when they leave here I want them to be 10-3.”
• Vic Viramontes, the California junior college quarterback the Gophers have recruited, must be pretty good, otherwise Michigan would not have offered him a scholarship before he originally signed with Cal in 2016. “I was close [to signing],” Viramontes said. “I visited their school twice, on an official visit and an unofficial visit.”
• How good will the Gophers football 2018 recruiting class be? Curtis Dunlap, a 6-4, 368-pound guard who is rated as the 130th-best player in the class, has decommitted from Florida and was one of many recruits visiting the Minnesota campus this past week.
• Reid Travis is averaging 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds at Stanford, but the Cardinal might miss out on the NCAA tournament again despite the DeLaSalle product’s efforts. Last Sunday, Stanford fell to 4-6 with a 76-68 loss at Long Beach State, in its 11th season under former Gophers coach Dan Monson.