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Packers not saying yet whether Rodgers will play against Vikings

Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers (90) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the fourth quarter Dec. 17 at Bank of America Stadium. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — The last time Aaron Rodgers faced the Vikings, he suffered a broken collarbone two months ago on a hit by Anthony Barr. Will Rodgers get a chance to face them again Saturday night, Dec. 23, in Green Bay?

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Monday, Dec. 18, put off any decision until at least Tuesday on whether the quarterback will get another start after he returned from his injury for Sunday's 31-24 loss at Carolina.

The Packers (7-7) entered Monday night with the prospect of being eliminated from the playoff race if Atlanta won at Tampa Bay. It seemed unlikely Rodgers would play Saturday at Lambeau Field if the Packers were out of the playoff race. McCarthy said there was soreness a day after Rodgers made his return following a seven-game absence.

"Aaron Rodgers is sore, rightfully so,'' McCarthy said at a news conference before the start of the Monday Night Football game. "He was hit too many times, took too many big hits. So we're working through that. We'll see what (Tuesday) brings."

Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph hopes Rodgers will get the start.

"I feel like he's going to play, like he's got something to prove," Joseph said. "And I kind of want him to play because it'd be more of a challenge."

Rodgers was hurt on Oct. 15 when he was slammed to the U.S. Bank Stadium turf by Barr a split second after releasing a pass. The linebacker was not penalized or fined for the hit, but McCarthy called it an "illegal act."

Joseph believes Rodgers will want to play Saturday for reasons other than the Barr hit, even if the Packers are out of playoff contention.

"I just know that he's a competitor and he loves the game, and if he can play, he's going to play," Joseph said.

Barr was not available for comment Monday. He spoke to the Pioneer Press last Friday about the numerous hate messages he has received from apparent Packers fans since the hit.

"I don't feel it's going to stop," Barr had said.

The Vikings (11-3) clinched the NFC North with a 34-7 win Sunday over Cincinnati at U.S. Bank Stadium. Barr was asked after the game whether he planned to speak to Rodgers on Saturday.

"I don't know," he said. "I haven't really thought about it. I'll see him on the field. Whatever happens, happens."

Guard Joe Berger was asked Monday if believes the crowd will be even more hostile to the Vikings at Lambeau Field because of Barr's hit on Rodgers.

"I mean, hostile and Wisconsin, I can't really put together," Berger said. "So, yeah, it's a division game. It's a big game."

Rodgers was up and down in his return to action Sunday. He completed 26 of 45 passes for 290 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

"Those are all throws he's made throughout his career,'' McCarthy said of the interceptions. "I think it was just a product of not playing for as long as he has, because those are routine throws for him."

If Rodgers doesn't play, the Packers will start Brett Hundley, who relieved Rodgers when he was hurt in the first quarter of the 23-10 loss on Oct. 15 and then went 3-4 as a starter in his absence.

"We'll prepare for both and we'll assume that Rodgers is going to play," said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. "It's not different than any other week where you don't know what's going on.''

Zimmer said it "doesn't matter" who starts. Vikings defensive end Brian Robison feels the same way.

"At the end of the day we're preparing for the Green Bay Packers,'' Robison said. "It's not about preparing for Aaron Rodgers or Brett Hundley. It's preparing for the team of the Green Bay Packers."

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