New Orleans Saints running back Zach Line (42) spikes the ball after scoring against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL Wild Card Playoff game in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018.

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD

Three members of the Saints will be making their first appearance in Minnesota since they were Vikings when New Orleans kicks off in U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. 

Fullback Zach Line, linebacker Michael Mauti and linebacker Gerald Hodges all began their careers with the Vikings.

Line, who is the Saints' starter at fullback, has the most recent history in Minnesota. He spent the past four years starting at fullback for the Vikings, until a hip injury in February forced him to have surgery.

"They know I did my job there, and unfortunately, I had to have a surgery where they didn't think I'd be ready for training camp," Line said. "I was, but that's the business of the game. I know they knew I was a good player, they kept me there for four years."

A lot of Line's friends in Minnesota will be lined up on the opposite sideline. 

"I've got a lot of love for a lot of people there," Line said. "I'm still familiar with a lot of the guys that are still there."

Hodges, a former fourth-round pick by the Vikings in 2013, and Mauti, a seventh-round pick the same year, will mostly have special-teams roles. Mauti has been battling an illness this week. 

For Hodges, who was traded to San Francisco in the middle of the 2015 season, the departure from Minnesota hurt for a while.

"When I got traded, I was their starting middle linebacker, and I just got traded in the middle of the season," Hodges said. "It was human nature, I had a bitter feel. I had a bitter feel for a while, but I had to mature and understand the business of the game."

Now, Hodges gets to go back and play against his former team. 

"I finally get a chance to go back out there, and it doesn't feel as personal," Hodges said. "It just feels like now I've got a chance to show you guys how I've grown."

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.