Considering he's struggled a bit lately, and that his replacement could have been the hero of the day, you might be tempted to minimize the Carolina Panthers benching of cornerback Chris Gamble.
Then you remember he's one of the longest-serving and highest-paid players on the team, and you realize it's kind of a big deal.
Gamble, who signed a six-year, $53 million contract extension in November 2008, played only in the nickel package in the Panthers 24-23 loss at Cleveland. When reporters were allowed into the locker room, he was gone, only an iPhone and a pair of headphones remaining in his locker.
Panthers coach John Fox would only say that not starting Gamble wasn't health-related, or anything to do with his absence from practice Wednesday, which was termed for personal reasons.
"I'm not going to get into evaluating Chris Gamble other than he did not start the game," Fox said.
Gamble was pulled for a series last week against Baltimore, after he was beaten for a long touchdown by Ravens wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh. On that play, he squatted on what he thought was going to be a short route trying to make a play on the ball, but wasn't there to cover when Houshmandzadeh turned it into a deep post.
"He's struggled a little bit," Fox said. "You might have missed this last week, but he actually left in the second quarter for a few plays a week ago. He did play today. It's a competitive league and a competitive position. We had Captain start in his place today."
Munnerlyn made the most of his opportunity, intercepting a Jake Delhomme pass and returning it for a touchdown in the third quarter. But even he shrugged when asked about replacing Gamble in the starting lineup. Munnerlyn missed two days of practice himself last week with a shoulder injury, but said he was told early on he'd start, and that was confirmed when he worked with the starters Friday.
"They just told me I was going to get the chance to start," Munnerlyn said. "I don't think Chris had anything to do with it, they just gave me an opportunity."
Gamble has been a consistently good cover player for the Panthers over the years, but hasn't made plays lately. Sunday's was his 14th straight game without an interception. Still, he's second in franchise history with 24 picks (behind only Eric Davis), and only three players on the roster have been with the team longer (kicker John Kasay, wide receiver Steve Smith and left tackle Jordan Gross).
As for his teammates, they all adopted a "don't-ask-me" posture when the move was mentioned.
"That was coach's decision, I don't know," cornerback Richard Marshall said. "You've got to ask coach what was going on with that. I couldn't tell you. I mean, I felt Captain played well when he was in there, and when Gam came in there he played well. All three of us could start, depending on the situation. ...
"I don't know. Chris was just here, you've got to ask Chris. I can't tell you nothing, I don't know how Chris is feeling, I don't know what the coach is thinking, I don't know."
Middle linebacker Jon Beason took a similar stance, but said he trusted Gamble when asked to evaluate the corner's play this year.
"Yeah, I think he's solid," Beason said. "He's definitely been a staple around here for a long time at the corner position.
"As a man, I love him, and as a player, I love him too."