Friday, January 30, 2004

Rockin' Patriots prep for noise

Belichick wants to negate disruptions

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HOUSTON - Patriots coach Bill Belichick borrowed a few cuts from his good friend Jon Bon Jovi to try to disrupt his team at practice Thursday.

Working inside at the Houston Texans' bubble, Belichick had rock music cranked up throughout the Patriots' 100-minute practice.

Though neutral-site Super Bowl audiences are not as loud as home-stadium crowds, there is a benefit to working against noise.

"If it's our crowd, it can affect defensive communication," Belichick said. "If it's (a pro-Carolina crowd), then it's offensive noise."

The Patriots have not played away from home at Gillette Stadium since Dec. 20.

Starting middle linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a key to stopping Carolina's strong running game, took snaps with the first string and continued to move well on his injured calf.

Rain interrupted Carolina's practice, forcing the Panthers to finish their work inside at the University of Houston with a 25-minute walkthrough.

"We got all our pad work done," Panthers coach John Fox said.

TAKEO'S TRIP: Former Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes, elected to play in the Pro Bowl in his first season in Buffalo, participated in a Pro Bowl news conference Thursday afternoon at the Houston media center.

"It was one of the goals I always had, even playing football as a little shorty," Spikes said of the Pro Bowl. "Being a Pro Bowl athlete brings credibility attached to your name."

The personal honor helped soften the blow of the Bills' 6-10 finish, which left them out of the playoffs.

"It helped me because I'm a very goal-oriented guy," Spikes said.

Spikes is not happy about the departure from Buffalo of Dick LeBeau, who had been the Bills' assistant head coach.

LeBeau and Spikes had been together for six consecutive seasons. Pittsburgh hired LeBeau earlier this month as its defensive coordinator.

Spikes earned a Pro Bowl bonus well in excess of $100,000, an amount believed to be close to $500,000. He said he is taking 12 people to Hawaii for the festivities leading up to the Feb. 8 game.

In Hawaii, Spikes will be reunited on the AFC team with Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson and right tackle Willie Anderson, one of Spikes' closest friends.

DROP A DIME: Karl Hankton, Carolina's special teams captain and wide receiver, will make one call leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII.

It will be to Leslie Frazier, the Bengals' defensive coordinator who was Hankton's coach at NAIA Trinity College in suburban Chicago. Frazier played cornerback and special teams for the Bears in Super Bowl XX in January 1986, a 46-10 victory against New England.

"Once we got into the playoffs, I didn't have the chance to talk to him," said Hankton, fifth-year player who was third on the Panthers with 13 special teams tackles.

"But I plan on giving him a call before the game. He played in it. I want to ask him what to expect."

Hankton talks regularly with Frazier, whom he considers "a role model and father figure."

UNION DUES: The NFL Players Association announced the creation of the joint Supplement Certification Program with the NFL. It allows manufacturers to verify on labels that its nutritional products contain no substances banned by the league.


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