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NOTEBOOK: Barr Says Vikings & Packers Will 'All Be Fired Up'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Anthony Barr will stroll into Lambeau Field for the fourth time in his career Saturday night when the Vikings and Packers square off at 7:30 p.m. (CT) on NBC.

But this time might be a little different for Barr, who has drawn the ire of Green Bay fans after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone during a Week 6 game in which Barr brought Rodgers to the turf as he released a pass. The play was within the rules of the game and did not result in a flag or fine.

Minnesota's Pro Bowl linebacker was asked Thursday what he expects when he is greeted by the Green Bay faithful this weekend.

"Hostile environment, it's going to be cold, it's going to be fun," Barr said. "[Let's] go out there and play some football.

"I don't think it will be too much of a factor," Barr later added. "I'm pretty good at tuning that stuff out."

As for the opposing players on the field, Barr said he doesn't expect anything different than the battles he's been a part of over the years.

"I'm sure they'll all be fired up," Barr said. "So will we.

"I think you're supposed to play to the whistle … I'm going to go play my game," Barr added.

Barr, who was named to his third straight Pro Bowl on Tuesday, has received flak from the Packers faithful on social media and in snail mail since Rodgers was injured more than two months ago.

A pair of Barr's teammates talked this week about the criticism he has received from fans of the Vikings biggest rival.

"From the years that I've been here, there hasn't been this much hate. It shouldn't become anything as far as physical, I hope not," said Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. "I hope there's still some class there, especially because it's really unfortunate what happened, nobody wants that for anybody. But it was like how many weeks ago? Hopefully they've moved past it. 

"And [Rodgers] came back. Their season didn't go probably the way they wanted it to because they didn't have him, but at the end of the day, we all still play football. We're all still grown men. You know, hopefully it doesn't become any type of thing where somebody has to worry about their safety because this is grown men you're talking about. I hope they don't try to hurt anybody," Diggs added. "I mean, it's a rivalry game. For us, we don't hurt anybody. It's probably more hating between fans than it is players, because we all play the game that we love. You want to win, but for us, we still just want to go out and win the game. I pray for everybody's safety, though."

Added Vikings safety Harrison Smith: "Obviously, when people tweet at you all the time, you have to find a way to deal with it. We tend to joke about it most of the time and accept it and roll with it."

Barr ranks third on the Vikings with 84 total tackles (according to coaches' tally) with eight tackles for loss and a sack.

"Yeah, it's cool, a great honor," Barr said of his Pro Bowl nod. "Happy to represent the team."

Smith snubbed for Pro Bowl

Smith was not among the four Vikings players selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl when the rosters were announced Tuesday.

He has 81 total tackles (according to coaches' tally) with nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a team-high three interceptions.

Smith's response to not making the initial squad?

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be in it, but it's never been a goal of mine," Smith said. "My goal is to do what the coaches teach us. I'm happy for the guys that got voted in, but I have other things to worry about." 

Smith has played in the past two Pro Bowls, but said he didn't plan on using the snub as fuel.

"I'm already pretty self-motivated," said Smith, who is the top-rated safety by the analytics website Pro Football Focus.

Preparing for Hundley

For the first time since 2013, the Vikings will see a different starting quarterback other than the familiar No. 12 for the Packers.

Rodgers was put on Injured Reserve earlier this week, meaning that Packers quarterback Brett Hundley will make his first career start against Minnesota.

Hundley isn't an unknown to the Vikings defense, as the unit saw him for 58 snaps in a Week 6 win at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Although the Vikings intercepted Hundley three times that day, Smith and Barr said the Green Bay quarterback has flashed plenty of impressive moments since then.

"That's just three plays. He made some really good throws, good decisions," Smith said. "He's continued to do that on film. He's a good player."

Added Barr: "I think he's more comfortable. He obviously knows that he's the guy now so he's probably more confident, more leadership. He uses his legs a lot, his legs are a big-time asset for him. He's been successful."

Barr and Hundley were teammates at UCLA in 2012 and 2013 as the Bruins went 19-8 in those two seasons.

Barr said the two often see each other on the college campus while training in the offseason.

"I think Brett has done a great job given the circumstances. He's made some big plays for them and has helped them win some big-time games," Barr said. "We're expecting his best. He's a gamer, he's a baller. I loved playing with the guy. He's a winner and a good dude.

"I know his family pretty well," Barr later added. "They're good people."

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