Preparing for noise

The Vikings might joke about the Metrodome being "Zygi's 'hood," but the Cowboys think the noise created in domes is no joke.

It is one of the many facets of the game they are preparing for this week.

The Cowboys are bracing for the bitter cold in Minneapolis and the noise in the Metrodome for Sunday's divisional playoff matchup against the Vikings.

The Cowboys won't have to deal with the cold during the game, of course, but the weather could wreak havoc on travel plans.

They will definitely have to deal with one of the loudest stadiums in the league.

"They can get some noise in that stadium," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Monday. "It'll be loud in there, but that's part of being the visitor in this league."

The Cowboys will blast noise during practice this week, which they have done all season for road games.

And they do have the experience of surviving a loud dome stadium on the road when they beat the Saints 24-17 in the Superdome.

"That was probably the loudest game I've ever been in my career, since I (started) in Little League," Cowboys running back Tashard Choice said. "We're battle-tested, understand what's going to be going on, but it's going to be loud in there. It's playoff football. It's a different type of emotion, different type of energy you have to bring. So that's what we've got to do. We've got to be ready on all cylinders."

Said Phillips: "I think it does help that we played in New Orleans. We have to have the same kind of focus and concentration that we did in that game. We've overcome penalties, but that isn't what you want to do, so it's going to be important that we practice the same way we did against New Orleans and have the same kind of concentration."

NOTES

--Phillips doesn't deny being relieved and satisfied that he got the monkey off his back with his first playoff win. He no longer has to hear about being the winningest coach without a playoff win. He has fielded calls from friends, family and well wishers over the past few days.

"You know, it's been a gamut of people," Phillips said."I probably shouldn't say this because I don't want to get them in trouble, but even the video guy at Philadelphia and the secretary there when I was there (1986-88) sent their congratulations. It's really nice to hear from people like that, that you've worked with before.

"The game itself is certainly important," Phillips continued. "But people are important to me. When you have people who feel good for you, that's when you know they are real friends. I think the monkey off the back deal is probably the big thing."

--The Cowboys have outscored their last three opponents by a combined score of 75-14. They held the Saints and Chargers to the lowest output of the season. This defense is playing as well as any defense in the league. Wade Phillips said the unit is playing as well as any unit he has been around in his coaching career. But they still have work to do.

"Obviously, we're playing very good football right now, but a lot of that remains to be seen," linebacker Keith Brooking said."We have a tough task ahead of us this week. If we go up there (Minnesota) and play well, if we keep dominating, three to four weeks from now we can make those comments.

"But right now, we still have a lot of work to do."

--RB Marion Barber was limited again the because of a swollen bursa sac in his left knee. He underwent an MRI on Monday. He will not practice on Wednesday, but head coach Wade Phillips remains optimistic that he will be able to play Sunday.

"We will rest him Wednesday," Phillips said. "We think he's going to be all right. He is better than he was after the game. I know he wants to play, going back to Minnesota. We'll monitor it."

--RB Tashard Choice is fine and will not miss any practice time despite getting banged up at the end of the Eagles game. There was an initial fear that he might have suffered a second concussion in as many weeks. But Choice did not suffer a concussion last Saturday.

"He should be fine and he's fine today," coach Wade Phillips said Monday. "Nothing like the week before when I felt like I was a little dazed," Choice said. "It was the end of the game and just wanted to make sure everything was cool. But I could have went back in. I was going to go back into the game. I wanted to. It ain't no big thing. Everything is cool though."

--RT Marc Colombo looked good in his first outing since missing seven games with a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula.

--SS Pat Watkins is still slowed by a knee injury that kept him out of the last three games. He is expected to try to practice this week and see if he can play Sunday against the Vikings.

--WR Roy Williams had five catches for 59 yards against the Eagles in what was a bounce-back performance.

"I think he was a little nervous, but it was good to see him step up and make some plays," wide receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "I think he was trying too hard. I think he was really trying to make a play and it just wasn't clicking, then all of a sudden he had some success and it really helped him because he knows we're going to need him. It was very good for him to be successful."

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