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Favre, Vikings preparing for another shot at Saints

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The outcry from Minnesota Vikings players, coaches and fans was significant in the wake of the overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game.

Many were furious that the Saints' defense wasn't penalized more heavily for what they viewed as late and illegal hits to Vikings quarterback Brett Favre throughout the game.

It turns out Favre himself has a different take on what happened.

As the Vikings began preparations Sunday for a season-opening rematch against the Saints in New Orleans, Favre was asked if he felt mistreated by Darren Sharper, Bobby McCray and the rest of the aggressive unit.

"No, I don't feel that way," Favre said.

The 40-year-old quarterback limped off the Superdome turf with a badly sprained left ankle that required offseason surgery, cuts on his forehead and a deep thigh bruise that he said was the most painful off his various injuries.

"All the other hits, believe it or not, didn't really hurt," Favre said. "Did they take their toll over time? Sure they did. ... It might be the same thing (Thursday night). Who knows? It might be different. I'm not worried about it."

Favre said he felt worse after a Week 3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers than he did following the loss to the Saints, when he was hit hard by Sharper twice on blitzes after throwing the ball and was crunched by McCray and defensive tackle Remi Ayodele with the kind of low hit that often draws a penalty flag for unnecessary roughness.

Favre needed to be helped to the trainer's table after that hit, but he said Sunday he injured his ankle earlier in the playoffs and not in that game.

Vikings coach Brad Childress has said on more than one occasion that he believed some of the hits were dirty.

"I understand a quarterback's going to get hit, people are going to get hit," Childress said Sunday. "It's football. I don't have any illusions about that. What I hate to see are late hits or attempts to hurt anybody. I don't think there's a place for that in the game."

As many times as he was hit, Favre still managed to deliver a solid performance. He was 28-of-46 passing for 310 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions, the last one coming in New Orleans territory at the end of regulation.

"There's always a risk-reward, regardless of what side of the ball you're on by being aggressive," Favre said. "It's not like we were shut down offensively. We went into a hostile environment and were extremely productive on offense, but yet it proved costly (with) the turnovers. So do I think we'll face the same style of defense this week? Sure."

Defensive coordinator Gregg Willliams and the Saints haven't been bashful this offseason about saying they aren't planning to change their approach for Thursday night's season opener. Sharper, who has been placed on the physically unable to perform list and will not be in uniform for the rematch, got into a Twitter feud with Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe over the summer while saying the Saints will go after Favre and his surgically repaired ankle.

"Everybody looked at the film," Vikings guard Anthony Herrera said. "They had a lot of late hits on the quarterback that wasn't called. They were playing football. It is what it is."

Saints coach Sean Payton defended his defense Sunday.

"I think that we play with an attitude and a swagger and a confidence level that is within the rules, and I like the way we play," Payton said.

In doing so, the Saints might have motivated the Vikings to return the favor against Drew Brees. Favre is one of the most popular players in the Vikings' locker room, and seeing their leader be pummeled in January is still fresh in their minds nine months later.

"There's always a fine line between what's legal and not legal," Minnesota linebacker Ben Leber said. "They definitely pushed that envelope against us. There's no reason that we shouldn't look for the same thing, us going after them and they know they're going to go after Brett like that. It's going to be a fun game."

Notes: Childress said the Vikings, who have just four wide receivers on their roster, aren't interested in free agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh. ... With Darius Reynaud traded to the New York Giants on Friday night, Percy Harvin will return kicks for the Vikings, and Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo will split punt-return duties Thursday night. ... The Vikings signed DE Marcus Sherels, OL Thomas Austin, S Colt Anderson, WR Freddie Brown, FB Ryan D'Imperio, DT Tremaine Johnson and WR Logan Payne to the practice squad.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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