FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel seems to have some irrational delusion that Philadelphia fans are ready to welcome him back to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
“Oh, they better cheer for me,” Samuel said Thursday. “They are going to cheer for me or we’re going to have a problem right there in Lincoln Financial. All you fans, all I did for y’all. Y’all better cheer for me. Deuce-Deuce here, has got nothing but love for you.”
Deuce-Deuce, as Samuel refers to himself in third person, doesn’t seem to understand that these are the descendants of the folks who booed Santa Claus. He played for the Eagles from 2008-11 before being traded to the Falcons on April 25 for a seventh-round draft pick.
He likely won’t be welcome and neither will the 6-0 Falcons, who defeated the Eagles 35-31 last season at the Georgia Dome.
Through a scheduling quirk, the Falcons and the Eagles are set to meet for the fifth consecutive season.
They have played six games in the past seven seasons, and the Eagles have dominated most of the action. They won four of the six games, with the Falcons winning in 2005 and last season.
The teams also met in the NFC Championship game after the 2004 season, with the Eagles winning.
The Falcons have not defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia since Oct. 30, 1988.
“There’s a lot of familiarity there,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said.
The games have been fiercely played, with bad blood occasionally percolating to the surface.
For this matchup, Samuel returns amid some controversy over whether he was traded because the Eagles thought his skills were in steep decline.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said he didn’t think that Samuel’s skills were in decline. Samuel sent a few tweets before the bye week that appeared to tweak Reid after the firing of Philadelphia defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
With kickoff near, Samuel, who did his weekly interview while wearing a helmet, is pointing the finger at media.
“Y’all assumed it was about Andy,” Samuel said. “I didn’t say this is for ‘Andy.’ I just made a quote and then another quote, and everybody said it was for Andy. Y’all did that.”
In the past two games, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson laid big hits on Eagles receivers. In 2010, he was fined $50,000 for a hit on wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The fine later was reduced to $25,000.
Last season, he put a thunderous hit on wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Later in the game, Maclin dropped a key fourth-down pass while he appeared to be on the lookout for Robinson.
In 2009, the Falcons’ front office didn’t like Reid inserting quarterback Michael Vick into the game late so that he could receive some cheers from his fans at the Georgia Dome.
On the Falcons’ most recent trip to Philadelphia, backup quarterback Kevin Kolb directed them to a 31-17 victory in 2010.
That was the game Robinson and Jackson ended up with concussions.
“Not with me,” said Robinson, when asked if there was any lingering bad blood between the two teams. “I’m not a dirty football player. I play hard and I play to win. I play the same way that I did since the first time I stepped out on the field. I don’t talk trash. If there is any bad blood, I haven’t heard anything about it.”
Robinson plans to continue to play physical against the Eagles’ wide receivers.
“Playing physical is a big part of football,” Robinson said. “It can change games. Receivers tend to drop balls after getting hit a lot. So I just say, stick to what you do and don’t change for anybody.”
The Falcons are rallying around Samuel for his return visit.
“We’ve just told him all week, don’t worry about it, we’re riding with you,” Robinson said. “If he gets booed, we get booed.”
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