Bucs bring the noise in preparation to face it
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published September 6, 2005
TAMPA - The Bucs have the unenviable task of opening on the road in one of the most unfriendly venues in the league.
The Metrodome, home of the Vikings, can make even the simplest tasks a mission with its noise level that, at times, is deafening.
In preparation for what they will face Sunday, the Bucs have practiced the past two days using crowd noise piped in from speakers. It's the best the team can do to simulate what might be the most intimidating stadium in the NFL.
"I don't know if it gets much louder" anywhere else in the league, coach Jon Gruden said. "There might be some teams that take offense to that, but when (the Vikings) are playing well and they're on top of their game, when things are going particularly well, that place is just devastating from a noise standpoint."
The noise makes it difficult to concentrate, but it affects one area more than most.
"It's hard to call plays and get your sideline communication organized, let alone communicating on offense," Gruden said.
LONG-TERM PLANNING: The staff has been working behind the scenes on strategy for use against Minnesota for months. But it can be tricky trying to get too in-depth too early.
"You started as soon as you got the schedule," Gruden said. "But then again, you've got to figure out who's on your team. Some of the things that we do here are based on our personnel and the things that we do well. You have to temper your enthusiasm until you cut the team down and see who exactly you're playing with."
The same is true on the flip side. The Vikings of last season that Gruden and his staff have watched on film are not the same team that will take the field Sunday. They have made wholesale changes, particularly on defense, adding several important pieces that likely will lead to alterations the Bucs can't predict.
Minnesota added defensive tackle Pat Williams , cornerback Fred Smoot and safety Darren Sharper , who will change the complexion of the defense. This being the season opener, there isn't much more to study than Minnesota's preseason games, which will probably offer little in the way of information about the new-and-improved Vikings.
"They've made so many changes to their football team, you have to speculate a little bit," Gruden said. "They're a completely different team on defense than they've been."
SEVEN RETURN: The Bucs signed seven to their practice squad Monday, and all are familiar faces. Each was in camp but failed to make the final roster: linebacker Matt Grootegoed , center Scott Jackson , cornerback James Patrick , safety Kalvin Pearson , former USF receiver DeAndrew Rubin , running back Derek Watson and former Hillsborough High and University of Miami standout Andrew Williams .
Each is eligible to be signed to any team's active roster or elevated to an active roster spot with the Bucs at any time.