Linebacker Jonathan Vilma says his New Orleans Saints teammates might have been grabbing Adrian Peterson's injured left ankle, as the Minnesota Vikings running back claims.
But, Vilma insists, the Saints never try to maliciously hurt anyone. In fact, corraling powerful, agile running backs around their ankles sometimes is the best way to tackle them.
"Fair or unfair, it really doesn't bother me," Vilma said of the Saints being called dirty, according to the team's official website. "We're an aggressive defense, we've always been an aggressive defense. I'd rather be labeled that than (not aggressive). We don't do anything intentionally or maliciously.
"A guy like Adrian Peterson, he's tough enough to tackle. He had a high ankle sprain, but this guy's so elusive, getting him around the ankles is a good thing. It's tough to get him down. It's unfortunate he thinks we're aiming for his ankles. He's that good of a talent."
After missing three games with a high ankle sprain, Peterson returned Sunday, then accused the Saints, especially cornerback Jabari Greer, of going kind of "overboard" in targeting his ankle during the Vikings' 42-20 loss.
Peterson said he wasn't further injured in the game. He finished with 10 carries for 60 yards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.