New York Jets news, commentary and insider info from beat writer Kimberley A. Martin.
Muhammad Wilkerson defends 'clean hit' on Jake Locker, says 'I’m not a dirty player'
Muhammad Wilkerson prayed along with the Titans, hoping Jake Locker would be OK. And when the Tennessee quarterback was loaded onto the cart and driven off LP Field Sunday, Wilkerson clapped with crowd as well.
Despite the harsh words of Titans head coach Mike Munchak, the Jets defensive end insisted Tuesday that he is “not a dirty player.”
“I would never try to hurt a player on purpose,” Wilkerson said during his weekly radio spot on WFAN, adding that he delivered “a clean hit” on the QB.
Locker was attempting a third-quarter pass to Nate Washington when he was hit, first in the chest, by Muhammad Wilkerson and then in the side by Quinton Coples. The quarterback remained on the ground for several minutes as his teammates gathered around him and the crowd chanted “Jake! Jake! Jake!” He was replaced by backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, an ex-Bill, in an eventual 38-13 win.
“I took one step and then I hit him,” Wilkerson explained.
Rex Ryan agreed on Monday, saying Wilkerson “did what you're supposed to do, lower your target.” But while the Jets saw no malicious intent in the hit, Munchak vehemently disagreed.
“[Wilkerson] dropped his helmet into him and unloaded on him,” he told local reporters. “You're supposed to pull back on him when you're late. He didn't.”
As for the Coples’ hit, Munchak called that “totally unnecessary."
Both Wilkerson and Coples are hoping to avoid fines by the league.
"Like I said, I'd never try to hurt a player on purpose," Wilkerson said on WFAN. "I was just doing my job, play hard, physical football. I took one step and hit him and that was that. And once I saw that he was laying there, I said my prayers and then clapped once he was carted off the field to show my sportsmanship.”