Dungy Says He Expects Lucas Oil Stadium to Be Loud on Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – Tony Dungy likes what he has seen.
As imantly, the Colts' head coach said he likes what he has heard from the state-of-the-art, retractable-roof stadium in downtown Indianapolis and he said he doesn't expect that to change.
Dungy, in his seventh season with the Colts, said while the team had a distinct home-field advantage the past several seasons in the RCA Dome – in part, at least, because of intense crowd noise – he believes that advantage can carry over to the new stadium.
And yes, Dungy said, that's true even with an open roof.
"I think it's really the fans that make the noise level," Dungy said as the Colts (13-3 last season), the five-time defending AFC South champions, prepared to play the Chicago Bears (7-9) in the first regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 8 p.m.
"Everybody says the dome helps, but we look at some of the places where it's tough for us to go. Kansas City is probably the place that comes to mind as the noisiest. That's not a dome.
"I just think it's the fans."
The Colts went 28-4 in their last four regular seasons in the RCA Dome, with only two of those losses – 27-24 to Jacksonville in 2004 and 24-20 to New England last season – coming before Indianapolis clinched their playoff positioning. The team also lost late-season games in the dome to San Diego in 2005 and to Tennessee last season.
"The stadium's great, but it's greater when you're winning football games and the players are playing at a high level," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "We have a tremendous challenge, playing the Bears in the season opener. It's a brand new season. We have some guys banged up a little bit, so everybody needs to raise their level of play. We certainly hope it will be loud. I think the fans will be excited and hopefully, we can give them something to cheer about.
"Once the game starts off, neither the Bears nor the Colts are really going to be concerned about where you're playing or what's new.
"It's going to be a matter of execution and hopefully, we can do our job there."
The Colts practiced in Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, then played preseason games there against Buffalo on August 24 and Cincinnati on August 28. The Colts played just one starter against Cincinnati, but Dungy said when the starters played in the first half against Buffalo the crowd noise seemed normal.
"It felt just the same," he said. "I told our rookie players they haven't really heard anything yet. They have no idea what's it's going to be like. I expect it to be the same."
Dungy this week recalled his time as an assistant coach with the Chiefs. He said neighbors would speak to him following big home games and feel proud they had not sat throughout the game.
"I think we've got fans like that," Dungy said. "When you talk to other people from other teams and they talk about changing what they do and going to silent snap counts and maybe coming in with a different game plan and throwing the ball quicker here than when they play at their place, you do realize it's a factor. . . .
"For us, it probably started in '03. Our fans were very used to being quiet, because of the no-huddle offense and we're always asking for quiet on offense. It took a while for that noise to really come around, but I'm sure we're going to see it Sunday night that – if we have the roof open – the noise is going to be about the same and it's really the fans and not the venue that makes it."
Also on Friday, Dungy said he expects center Jeff Saturday (knee) and Mike Pollak (knee) to be the only active Colts players to miss Sunday's game.
The Colts released their third injury report of the week Friday, with Saturday and Pollak listed as out and wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), defensive end Curtis Johnson (shoulder) and wide receiver Pierre Garcon (shoulder) listed as questionable. Manning (knee) is listed as probable.
Dungy also said middle linebacker Gary Brackett will begin the season wearing the new coach-to-defense, in-helmet communication device, with linebacker Freddy Keiaho designated as the second player to wear the device. Under a new NFL rule this season, one defensive player may wear a helmet fitted with a coach-to-player communication device.
Dungy also said he expects Courtney Roby to return kicks and Keiwan Ratliff to return punts against Chicago.