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NOTEBOOK: Lessons Learned From 2012 Visit To Indy; Other Notes

Posted Sep 13, 2013

Close game at Lucas Oil Stadium prepared team for Sunday’s atmosphere.



Some NFL stadiums simply have unique characteristics that cannot be duplicated on a practice field and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is one of them.

When the Miami Dolphins traveled up there last November in Week 8 to face the Colts and then-rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, they knew the noise level was going to be a factor. Throw in the added emotion of Indy’s head coach, Chuck Pagano, making his first visit to the locker room since being released from the hospital following chemotherapy treatments and Miami found itself at even more of a disadvantage.

The Colts escaped that afternoon with a 23-20 victory behind a record-setting performance by Luck, but the Dolphins had their chances in the fourth quarter and this Sunday they want to prove they learned from their experience a season ago. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn’t a rookie anymore and he has a road win last week at Cleveland to fall back on and a plan to contend with the noise.

“It’s definitely a loud place to play, especially in a close game,” said Tannehill, who completed 22-of-38 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. “Everyone is amped up, and it makes it more fun. It’s more difficult to communicate. You have to be clear at the line of scrimmage, be loud and communication up and down the line has to be great. It’s an element it is fun to play in, and hopefully we can overcome that loudness and use our communication well.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin continues to have recorded crowd noise piped into the practice bubble and over the loudspeakers on the outdoor fields to at least give his players something to prepare for. He uses it in every conceivable situation, including punt protection, because he is a stickler for discipline before the snap and avoiding false starts or defensive players jumping into the neutral zone.

“Communication is going to be big, we talked about it before. We had too many penalties there the last time,” Philbin said referring to Miami’s eight infractions for 79 yards. “We told the team day one when we began preparation for this team that’s not going to function, that’s not going to be us up there.”

Veteran right tackle Tyson Clabo agreed with Tannehill’s point about communicating well at the line of scrimmage and not letting the crowd instigate any false starts or missed assignments. As Clabo explained it, it’s everyone’s responsibility to echo Tannehill’s and center Mike Pouncey’s calls down the line on both sides of the center.

Things get even tougher for the wide receivers, especially Mike Wallace who lines up furthest away from Tannehill. He has to leave the huddle knowing what the play is and what the audibles could be as well as whatever hand signals Tannehill might use to change the play.

“You just have to be locked in and you have to be focusing on the quarterback all the time,” said Wallace, who caught five passes for a career-high 144 yards and one 81-yard touchdown in his only trip to Indianapolis with the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 25th, 2011. “You can’t really hear so you have to be focused on every move he makes and every signal you have to be locked in. Our best bet is just to go in, get a fast start and keep the crowd quiet so we don’t have to go through all of that noise.”

THIS AND THAT

Wallace had a highlight moment during practice inside the bubble when he made a circus catch of a Tannehill fade pass in the right corner of the end zone. He and wide receiver Brandon Gibson with a celebratory jump where they bumped each other. … Rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor (groin) and third-string quarterback Pat Devlin (ankle) were working on the side again and did not practice.

FREAKY FRIDAY TUNES

It felt like déjà vu during the stretch period at the start when the first song played was “Headband,” by B.o.B. featuring 2 Chainz, as that was the same song that started things off yesterday. “Ain’t No Way Around It,” by Future featuring Big Boi and Young Jeezy was next, followed by “Nothin’ On Ya,” by Gucci Mane featuring Wiz Khalifa.

THE LAST WORD

“You’ve got to wrap him up and not let him get out of there and we’ve seen it on tape this year. So you’ve got to wrap him up and gang tackle because he’s not really a big guy but he’s also not small so you’ve just got to get a hold of him and hang on.” – Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks on the best way to slow down Colts QB Andrew Luck
Game Pass: Miami Dolphins

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