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NOTEBOOK: Dolphins Gearing Up For The Dome; Other Notes

Posted Sep 25, 2013

Young players are leaning on vets for tips about the stadium.



Playing under the lights on Monday Night Football for the first time is an experience like no other, and when you throw in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans as the venue it becomes extra special.

The noise level inside of the New Orleans Saints’ home cannot be duplicated, even though Miami’s coaches are trying hard this week by piping in crowd noise during practice. So the rookies and younger players making their first trip to the Big Easy are leaning on the team’s veterans for advice on how to deal with the expected atmosphere and are finding they don’t have too many options.

Cornerback Brent Grimes and right tackle Tyson Clabo are two of the most popular players being sought out being that they played in New Orleans every year with the Atlanta Falcons as NFC South rivals. They are not sugarcoating anything, which is necessary for this game.

“It’s going to be tough and they’re going to present a lot of challenges,” said Grimes, who has 21 tackles, two interceptions and three passes defensed in his last three trips to the Superdome with one win. “The stadium’s going to be loud. They have passionate fans that are really pulling for their team and they’re going to be excited and they feed off of that. That’s why it always comes down to fundamentals. You can’t really feed into the crowd and the noise that you’re going to have. You’ve just got to play your game and you can’t just go out there and freelance because an offense that good will eventually expose you.”

Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis played in his share of loud stadiums during his college career at the University of Florida and actually kicked in the Superdome twice. His first trip there was as a sophomore on New Year’s Day in 2010 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, a 51-24 win over Cincinnati for the Gators, and he went again as a senior this past January 2nd, losing 33-23 to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Sturgis converted 2-of-3 field goals in those two games and 8-of-9 extra points while kicking off 11 times so at least the surroundings will be familiar. But a home Saints crowd is much different than a split Sugar Bowl crowd and he is fully aware of how that can impact the game, especially his kicking battery of long snapper John Denney and holder Brandon Fields.

“It shouldn’t affect (the kicking game) too much, but obviously when it’s louder maybe it’s a little bit more on Denney and Brandon as far as their communication,” Sturgis said. “But they do such a good job. They’ve been around so long and they’re really good at what they do. I’ve gotten to play there before. It’s an exciting place. I know they’re a very good team at 3-0 right now and they have great, great fans so we’re excited to play there.”

Center Mike Pouncey, a fellow Gator, also got to play in a Sugar Bowl and his first game with the Dolphins was on a Monday night in 2011 at Sun Life Stadium against the New England Patriots. He talked about the importance of being able to work the silent count on offense in that type of situation.

Clabo, whose only win at New Orleans came in 2010 in the same game as Grimes (27-24 in overtime) had a bit of unique advice for those teammates of his about to experience the Superdome for the first time.

“What I’ve tried to convey to my teammates is that it’s going to be very, very loud but also it’s a fun place to play,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere for football. They love the Saints down there, so if you can go down there and get a win it’d be pretty special. They’re obviously a very talented team and at home they’re really tough to beat.”

The only other Dolphins players to have played in the Superdome are backup quarterback Matt Moore, wide receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker Philip Wheeler and fullback Tyler Clutts. Moore and Starks are the only ones besides Clabo and Grimes to get a win there. Moore actually won in his NFL debut with the Carolina Panthers, 16-13, back in 2007 and Starks won with the Tennessee Titans that same year, 31-14, setting up a late touchdown by recovering a Drew Brees fumble.

LET THE MUSIC PLAY

It was back to the three-song rotation today during the stretching period inside the bubble, with Chase Rice’s country diddy “How She Rolls” leading it off again. Young Jeezy followed that up with “Get Right,” and then in an ode to Miami it was “305 To My City,” by Drake featuring Detail.

THE LAST WORD

“What’s crazy is when we get the ball at the end of the game I kind of expect us to win. You should feel that way but I don’t know, it’s just a feeling I’ve been having the last two times we got the ball at the end of the game, like we were just going to close it out. It kind of gets like practice and I guess that’s a good thing when you feel as though the game is starting to get like practice when you work so hard and the game slows down for you.” – Wallace on his confidence level late in games

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