The New Orleans Saints will face off against one of their former Super Bowl stars Thursday night in Carolina: safety Roman Harper, who is now a Panther.
The Saints parted ways with Harper and Malcolm Jenkins this offseason. Both were vocal locker room leaders and active community volunteers during their time in New Orleans.
Harper, who spent his entire career with the Saints until now, says it helps that Thursday’s meeting is in Bank of America Stadium.
"It is here in Carolina. I am used to a home crowd and it will be all good," Harper said. "It will just be against guys that I know very well. I think it won’t feel different until I actually have to come out of the visitor’s tunnel at the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome. I think that’s when it will be really weird, not this weekend, not Thursday. This one will just be another one."
Harper has found success in his fresh start in Carolina: he has three interceptions this year and is grateful for the opportunity.
"You are a new face. You are no longer stale to them," Harper said of his experience so far with the Panthers. "You’re not like the old girlfriend. You’re like the good-looking girl you see walking across the street. That’s what it is about right now, and I am excited to be here. It has been great. It has been very good."
The Saints defense has struggled so far this season. As a unit, the Saints defense has just five interceptions total on the season.
While defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will try to build on the success his defense found against Green Bay last Sunday, he has nothing but glowing things to say about Harper.
"What a great guy Roman is – a class act," Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "I was only with Roman for one year but he was one of the best guys I have ever coached. He’s smart, tough, loves football and represented the Saints really well. He helped when I came here learn exactly what this team was all about from Joe Vitt to Roman Harper to Malcolm Jenkins and guys like that. I’ll never forget him."
The Saints drafted Harper out of the University of Alabama in the second round of the 2006 Draft.