FOXBORO, Mass. ― Randall Gay grew up in Louisiana, played football at LSU and now holds down the Saints' nickel back position on defense.

But Tuesday, he was more than happy to be back on the Patriots' practice fields in suburban Boston. Of course, he was just as happy to be there as a member of the defending Super Bowl champions than the homestanding Patriots.

'Every time I lined up over there, somebody was saying to me,' Gay said about the trash talk his former teammates were giving him. 'But it's all in fun because when they line up on me, I'm going to tell them something, too. At one time, they were my family. Just like the Saints are my family now, these guys, they were my family once and I still consider them like family.'

He wasn't alone.

Fullback Heath Evans and tight end David Thomas are both former Patriots, and while Thomas said the experience has been fun, Evans got a bit nostalgic about his time in new England.

'I never planned to leave New England,' Evans said.

He added, '... You get used to winning. I saw those components. I wasn't about to leave a winning situation and go back to losing. Can I tell you I knew it was coming? No. But I knew we had a chance.'

Gay played his first four seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, winning the 2004 Super Bowl in his rookie season and getting to the big game in 2007. But he came to the Saints prior to the 2008 season and has been a mainstay in the defensive backfield ever since.

So, as soon as the joint practices between New England and New Orleans were scheduled, he knew what the Saints were going up against in practice.

'I just knew it was going to help us as a defense because we have a great offense, but as training goes on, it gets a little boring going against the same plays every day,' Gay said. 'It gets to where you might relax a little bit, but now, you get to go against another great offense and great quarterback and you really push yourself. You don't want to get embarrassed out so you're going to work hard and get better.'

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