FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For Kevin Faulk and Jarvis Green -- two Louisiana natives who played collegiality at Louisiana State -- Monday's matchup with the Saints isn't just another big game, it's a homecoming.
And one that's been a long time coming, no less.
The Patriots haven't played in New Orleans since their 20-17 triumph over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2002. They haven't played the Saints since Nov. 20, 2005, a game played in Foxborough. The Patriots last met the Saints at the Superdome on Oct. 4, 1998.
Both Faulk (drafted the year after that last regular-season visit to New Orleans) and Green (drafted the year after the Super Bowl victory) expressed excitement in returning home, but admit their cell phones haven't stopped buzzing with family and friends looking for tickets.
"Whoever's doing the schedule, I must tell them thank you," Faulk said with a smile. "That's just a joke, that's all. No, that's something that goes on, we can't control it, so why complain about it?"
Sidelined after undergoing knee surgery in late October, Green said it would be nice to return to the field in his home state, but that he's not looking that far ahead yet.
"I've got to see how I practice first," said Green, who had a purple and yellow LSU sweatshirt hanging in his locker. "It would be good, but let's just see how things go. One day at a time."
While joking the Patriots' visit to the Big Easy happens to come the year the Saints are 10-0, both players said the team's success is great for the community, particularly as the area continues to rebound from Hurricane Katrina.
"It's good for the whole state, just to see them coming along as a team. The state has been looking for this for a while," said Faulk. "You can tell by the fans, the backing they have and the sold-out game. That's how fans feel about [the Saints]. They've always had good fans, they just didn't have enough to cheer about."
Added Green: "It's good after what they went through a few years ago. It's something special down there. Like anything else, the city supports each other. It's huge for the city, it keeps them stronger."