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Scattered Clouds 43° Good Evening

Home cookin' for many Giants is Cajun flavored

Landon Collins said he's looking forward to the food. Rueben Randle said he's excited to see his family. Eli Manning said he's just going to play football.

As the oddly large contingent of Giants players with roots in Louisiana -- and New Orleans in particular -- prepared for Sunday's game against the Saints, each seemed to have his own reason for looking forward to the trip to The Big Easy. What they all hope is that they will leave with the same smile they sported when they arrived "home" Saturday afternoon.

Nothing can deflate the excitement of a homecoming like a loss. And Manning might know that better than anyone else.

The Giants quarterback is 0-2 in his two NFL games at the Superdome, which would not be worth mentioning were it not just a few blocks from where he grew up, where his father, Archie, was a heroic figure on a string of miserable teams, and where he spent many Sunday afternoons of his youth watching the Saints while his dad broadcast the games locally.

Manning said he can't be sure, but he thinks he probably was there with his pop the last time the Giants won a game in New Orleans. In 1993. When he was 12.

Since then, the Giants have lost their last four visits. The last two, with Manning at quarterback in 2009 and 2011, were lopsided games with a combined score of 97-51. Before those games, Manning spoke fondly of returning to his roots. This time, nostalgia is taking a backseat.

"I'm not seeing family before the game or anything," he said. "It's the next game. We're going to New Orleans to try to get a win."

That doesn't mean he begrudges the other players, many of whom are returning for the first time in their pro careers. Manning and Tom Coughlin did, however, issue a Super Bowl week-type warning to take care of ticket requests and other nuisances early in the week so that when the Giants did arrive, they wouldn't be overwhelmed.

"I'm sure he's excited to go back to his hometown," Manning said of Odell Beckham Jr. in particular and the Cajun Contingent as a whole. "You have to keep the focus on the game and your assignments and your play and don't get too excited or overworked. Don't try to do more than you have to."

There still will be time to enjoy the splendors of home, of course. Collins said he's been hit up for about 15 tickets from family and friends. Randle, who grew up about four hours north of New Orleans and played at LSU, said he's on the hook for only four tickets but expects a crowd of about 25 to 30 there to support him and the Giants.

"It'll definitely be a reunion," Randle said. "My parents are handling the situation. I'll be looking forward to seeing them at the hotel once we get there."

While this is an NFL debut for many of the locals, almost all of them have played in the Superdome before, either in college or high school. Collins, the rookie safety, said he went to four or five Saints games when he was growing up and then played in two Sugar Bowls there with Alabama. Randle, Beckham and punter Brad Wing all played there for LSU.

"For me, it's like second nature, having been there so often," Collins said. "It's my home. It's nothing to me. I just love being there, especially the food."

Collins said even though he grew up in New Orleans, he wasn't a fan of the Saints. He rooted for another team. But even that allegiance had roots in the area.

"I was always a Colts fan at the time," he said.

Inspired to be one, he quickly noted, by a fellow New Orleans product by the name of Peyton Manning.

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