For Rams, Jones Dome not-so-secret weapon

Ravens notebook

Boller will have to deal with roof-shaking noise

Pro Football

November 06, 2003|By Jamison Hensley and Brent Jones | Jamison Hensley and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

After playing in half-filled stadiums in Arizona and Cincinnati, Ravens rookie quarterback Kyle Boller is about to experience what the St. Louis Rams refer to as their "dome-field advantage."

Noise levels at Edward Jones Dome have been known to reach as high as 125.8 decibels, which is akin to standing next to a jet engine. In what has become one of the NFL's most intimidating stadiums, the Rams have won 10 straight games - the league's longest current home winning streak.

"I heard it's one of the loudest stadiums," said Boller, whose only dome experience was a preseason game in Atlanta. "We need to prepare for that in practice. You have to limit your checks and you need to know the game plan."

Even at noise levels close to 100 decibels, teammates can only hear a shouting quarterback if they're standing just a couple of feet away.

Unlike some other teams, the Ravens will not practice with a sound system blaring to get acclimated to the noise.

"There is only so much that you can do to simulate it," coach Brian Billick said. "[Boller] is going to have to be very loud and everybody is going to see what they have to do. If it's a blitz, everybody has to see it's a blitz. If you are counting on someone to tell you, or to hear a certain call, that is just not going to happen."

Playing in domes has been rough for the Ravens. They have won once in six games indoors, losing last year in Atlanta and Indianapolis by a combined five points.

But they seem confident they can block out the noise.

"That's what signals are for," running back Jamal Lewis said. "I think we'll have our game plan down going in to the point where we don't have to worry about that."

Together again

Ravens receiver Frank Sanders and Rams receiver Isaac Bruce, high school teammates in the late 1980s in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will reunite Sunday as two of the NFL's most productive players over the last decade.

Bruce was a senior when Sanders was a junior at Dillard High, and the two have known each other most of their lives. Back then, Bruce was the star of their state-championship team and Sanders was a tight end.

"They moved me to tight end. Imagine that," Sanders said. "When that senior group left, I became a starter at receiver.

"I've known Ike and his family since Little League. His older brother and sisters played with my older brothers and sisters in high school. So I knew their family real well and he knows my family."

Anderson excited

Right guard Bennie Anderson is going back to the area where he was an all-district lineman in high school.

"I'm excited about playing in front of the home crowd," said Anderson. "I cut my cell phone off last week. I'm going to buy a certain number of tickets and whoever don't get tickets, I apologize for it. But tickets are expensive."

It will also be a reunion of sorts with the Rams, with whom Anderson signed a free agent contract in 2000 coming out of Tennessee State. He was waived, however, before training camp started.

"I was there maybe 20 minutes, and I'm holding a grudge," he said.

Wishing him luck

All the rumblings about former Pro Bowl cornerback Deion Sanders wanting to coach the Atlanta Falcons next season have struck a funny chord with Billick.

Sanders, a studio analyst on The NFL Today for CBS, began his career with the Falcons before playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. He has no coaching experience.

"I welcome Deion to the coaching ranks to see him deal with [the media] and to be on the other side," Billick said. "I think it would be amusing to watch."

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