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Saints' Alden Darby refused payment for returning No. 41 to Roman Harper

METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints safety Alden Darby said Roman Harper has been trying to buy him dinner as a thank-you for Darby returning his No. 41 to him when Harper rejoined the Saints last week. But Darby has refused.

“I said, ‘You’re Roman Harper,’” said Darby, who said he would have insisted Harper take his old number back even if Harper hadn’t asked.

Darby said he’s just happy to have a locker and an opportunity. The 5-foot-10, 192-pounder is on his third team since going undrafted out of Arizona State in 2014. He joined the Saints’ practice squad last September and has quickly stood out as one of the most enthusiastic personalities in the locker room.

Darby now wears No. 42 -- which he didn’t realize until later was the same number worn by former Saints cornerback Jason David, who now works as a trainer and trains Darby back home in the Los Angeles area.

One more Saints connection: Darby grew up as a die-hard fan of the San Diego Chargers -- and a die-hard Drew Brees fan.

Harper, meanwhile, had a great line Thursday about the reception he has been getting from Saints fans now that he is back from his two-year hiatus with the rival Carolina Panthers.

“When I was out of here, everyone was happy,” said Harper, who started to catch some grief from the fan base for some struggles in pass coverage toward the end of his first eight-year run in New Orleans. “And now I'm back, and everyone's happy."

Harper said he appreciates the warm welcome and "this is home." He said he was just on a short vacation during his two years in Carolina, though he added that he "had a great time on my vacation."