On Thursday mercurial Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel broke a self-imposed silence with the media that had been going on since the early stages of training camp.

Samuel had good reason for speaking his mind. On Sunday he faces the New England Patriots the club that drafted him and put the veteran cornerback in position to win two Super Bowls (2003-04).

By all accounts Samuel doesn't hold any ill will against his old team.

"We're pretty cool" Samuel said of his former teammates as he stood calmly before the cameras and held his hands behind his back. "It's my first home. I was born into the New England system as a rookie and as an NFL player. So I'm always going to have some love and a lot of people I know from around there so that's what it is.

Those respectful words contrast sharply with last season when Samuel unleashed his acerbic wit upon the Eagles another former team when they were struggling in a non-playoff campaign — Andy Reid's last as head coach.

In the week leading up to the 2012 matchup with Philadelphia — coinciding with Reid's decision to fire defensive coordinator Juan Castillo — Samuel put on his helmet in the locker room to address the gathered cameras.

At the time Samuel said he wore the helmet because "my personality issues are kickin' in" and then referred to himself by his jersey number 22 as he addressed the Eagles' defensive woes:

"It's kind of hard when 22's not there. You know 22 keep things going for you. Just got to deal with it. Make your bed you've got to lie in it."

By contrast Samuel's relationship with the Patriots is a mutual lovefest. In a conference call with Atlanta media on Wednesday Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said "Asante is as good as any corner in the league."

Brady was also asked if he would have to keep an extra eye out for the four-time Pro Bowler.