By SAM EKSTROM, Associated Press
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr said Friday he did not intend to “take out” Aaron Rodgers with a hit last weekend that left the Packers quarterback with a broken right collarbone.
After spending most of the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol, Barr was cleared Friday and allowed to speak to the media for the first time since Sunday’s game.
“By no means was I trying to injure or take out Aaron Rodgers,” Barr said. “He’s one of, if not the best, player in this league. I’m not a dirty player. I don’t play dirty. We don’t preach that around here.”
Rodgers was placed on injured reserve shortly after Barr spoke and could be out for the season. Backup Brett Hundley will make his first NFL start at home on Sunday against New Orleans.
Rodgers posted an Instagram message early Friday thanking well-wishers for their “love, support, thoughts and prayers” in a photo of himself in a hospital bed. The two-time NFL MVP added the phrase “comeback starts now” with a hashtag.
Barr said he wouldn’t change anything about the way he hit Rodgers, who had thrown a pass while scrambling out of the pocket before the hit in which he was driven to the ground on his right throwing shoulder. There was no flag thrown on the play, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy called it “an illegal act.” Green Bay players Jahri Evans and Ahmad Brooks also condemned the hit.
“Everybody’s going to be entitled to their opinion,” Barr said. “I think if it happened to my quarterback, I’d probably say it was illegal and the same thing, just because you’re trying to defend your guy.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer stood up for Barr earlier in the week, saying he didn’t know why there was so much scrutiny about the hit. Barr said he has not heard from the league office about a potential fine.
He has heard plenty from Packers fans, however. Barr said he received 3,000 “mostly not too kind” tweets by halftime of Sunday’s game, which he left with a concussion.
Barr is expected to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
NOTES: Vikings QB Sam Bradford (knee), LG Nick Easton (calf) and WR Stefon Diggs (groin) were ruled out of the game. WR Michael Floyd (hamstring), CB Mackensie Alexander (hip), LT Riley Reiff (ankle) and CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring) are listed as questionable.
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