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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Saints

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Familiar faces remain on the rosters of New England and New Orleans.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

When the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots meet again on Sunday afternoon, so will a handful of players who’ve suited up for both sides.

The roster connections shared between New England and New Orleans are not as strong as they once were during their heyday of joint practices at The Greenbrier and Gillette Stadium. There are no Travaris Cadets or Rufus Johnsons or Ramon Humbers this time. But there currently are four ex-Patriots with the Saints and one ex-Saint with the Patriots.

And as the 1 p.m. ET kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Superdome edges closer, let’s revisit them.

NEW ORLEANS

Austin Carr, wide receiver – Two weeks ago, Carr was a Patriot. But the undrafted rookie out of Northwestern, who led the passing game with 14 receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns in preseason action, saw his stay conclude on Sept. 2 as rosters went to 53. Less than 24 hours later, Carr’s chance of remaining in Foxborough on the practice squad dissipated as New Orleans claimed him off waivers. The 23-year-old wideout was inactive for the Saints’ opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, leaving open the possibility that he’ll make his regular-season debut against his former team this Sunday. “There are a number of things I think he can do to help us,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said of Carr on a recent conference call.

Michael Hoomanawanui, tight end – As the 2015 calendar flipped from September to October, the Saints flipped defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to the Patriots in exchange for Hoomanawanui. The move came after the latter had logged 45 games, 28 starts, 20 catches, 289 yards, one touchdown and a Super Bowl victory with New England. Hoomanawanui had served as a blocking tight end, fullback and special-teamer by then. “Had a lot of position versatility, smart guy,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said at the time. “We won a lot of games with him.” Hoomanwanui has since appeared in 13 games for the Saints, starting nine and securing 11 passes for 76 yards and three scores. The 29-year-old spent the entirety of the 2016 season on injured reserve.

Clay Harbor, tight end – Hoomanawanui isn’t the only tight end from Patriots past in the Saints’ fold. There’s also the 30-year-old Harbor, who spent seven months with New England and checked into three games before being released in October 2016. Harbor, previously with the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars, finished out last season with the Detroit Lions before signing with the Saints this spring. The ex-Missouri State wide receiver was placed on injured reserve in August.

Sterling Moore, cornerback – Moore may have not been with the Patriots for long, but he was around long enough to strip the go-ahead touchdown out of Lee Evans’ hands in the 2011 AFC title bout with 22 seconds remaining in a 23-20 contest. Not a bad way for an undrafted rookie’s time in New England to be remembered. Moore, who worked between New England’s 53 and practice squad for part of the following season, has been a member of four organizations since then. The well-traveled Southern Methodist product joined New Orleans last September, and started 12 of his 13 games in 2016 while registering 56 tackles and a pair of interceptions.

NEW ENGLAND

Brandin Cooks, wide receiver – Hard to forget about this one, but just to cover all the bases: New Orleans shipped its 2014 first-rounder to New England a day after the league year began in March, and received what would become rookie Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk in return at No. 32 overall. So, that happened. Cooks had played in 42 games over the course of his three seasons with the Saints. The 23-year-old Oregon State standout amassed 162 catches for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns over his final two in New Orleans alone. Cooks reeled in three for 88 yards in his Patriots debut last Thursday versus the Kansas City Chiefs, with 54 arriving on a fly down the left sideline.