MINNEAPOLIS - There won't be many surprises coming out of the huddles of the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings in today's NFC playoff game. These are two teams with a history.
The Saints and Vikings practiced together for years when New Orleans held its training camp in Wisconsin. This year, the Saints (11-6) moved their camp to Louisiana, but traveled to Minnesota to play the Vikings (11-5) in the preseason.
Of course, some Saints know the Vikings better than others, having been on both sides.
Saints wide receiver Jake Reed was an expert on the noise level expected in the Metrodome this week. He learned all about it firsthand during his nine years as a member of the Vikings.
Not that Reed will feel any tugging on his heart strings when he steps on the field for the first of the weekend's four playoff games.
"This is not like a homecoming or a family reunion or a pleasure trip for me," Reed said. "This is a business trip. When I get in, I'm going to do the same thing that I do ... before every game. I'm not going out to any dinners. I'm not going by anyone's house."
Then, if things go the way Reed plans, he and two of his new teammates and two Saints assistant coaches will be heading back to New Orleans while making plans for playing in the NFC championship game.
Tight end Andrew Glover played in Minnesota the past three seasons, catching 95 passes for 1,227 yards and nine touchdowns, including career highs of 35 catches, 522 yards and five touchdowns in 1998, when the Vikings scored an NFL-record 556 points. He started four of seven playoff games for the Vikings.
Glover left after being asked to take a pay cut.
"After being told, `We no longer need your services,' then to come to a team that was 3-13 last year and go from worst to first," Glover said, "then to get a chance to go back to Minnesota and try to knock them off? That's exciting. It's what you dream about."
Running back Terry Allen was with the Vikings from 1990-94. He had 1,000-yard seasons in '92 and '94, but spent all of the '90 and '93 seasons recovering from injuries. Allen joined the Saints late this season after Ricky Williams broke his leg.
New Orleans wide receivers coach Hubbard Alexander held the same position with the Vikings in 1998 and '99, and running backs coach Dave Atkins coached Minnesota's tight ends from 1997-99.
"One of the things I can tell these guys is that the Vikings are very good at what they do," Atkins said. "But you don't have to have been there to know that."
For Reed, a third-round draft choice in 1991, there are many memories. He caught 386 passes for 6,124 yards and 32 touchdowns in nine seasons in Minnesota, including 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 1994-97. He appeared in nine playoff games while with the Vikings. At one point, Reed and Cris Carter were among the NFL's most dangerous receiving duos.
So Reed spent this week quickly dismissing questions about his return. The trip to his old hometown is important only for one reason: It takes his new team a step closer to the Super Bowl.
"Playing up there in the preseason is probably the best thing that could have happened," Reed said. "I got it out of my system. It's not a distraction. We're going to go up there and play football and I'm going to do my thing. I have a lot of friends up there - players and coaches and people on the staff. I had a great time up there. But it's over."
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