Feel the noise!

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Pour some 30,000 rabid Roughies rooters into Taylor Field.

Then mix in quarterback Henry Burris, vilified by 'Riders faithful since heading West to the Stampeders as a free agent eight months ago.

Combine it with a playoff game's significance and what do you get?

NOISE.

Plenty of it, too, if the final 30 minutes of yesterday's Stampeders practice is a sound indication of the reception the Stampeders anticipate Sunday afternoon in the Queen City.

After initially working out on the lower practice field, the Stamps stomped up to McMahon Stadium's carpet for a half-hour, closed-door session with recorded noise bombarding them from the sound system, a reverberating mix of shouting fans and muddy music blasting from above.

Barring media and spectators to listen from the parking lot added a cloak of secrecy and suspicion to the proceedings, ratcheting up the anticipation for the game that will pry apart the two CFL West clubs currently tied for third place with 16 points.

Offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto said the hubbub served its purpose.

"We practised well down there but we got up here and the noise started and it's distracting," said Buratto, his ears still ringing from the deafening assault on the senses.

"It makes it very difficult to communicate and, when that happens, guys' minds go all over the place. They can't hear anything and they get frustrated. The next thing you know, you get a little assignment error here and there because a guy didn't get the call."

Buratto said forcing the players to practice without verbally communicating will iron out the typical timing problems offences experience in a noisy stadium on the road. He said shrouding a portion of practice also had a practical application.

"I don't trust (Saskatchewan GM) Roy Shivers," said Buratto.

"It's a closed practice, period. Are you going to say everybody can come in here? We're doing a few things that I don't want to leak out. There are a lot of people in Saskatchewan's camp with associations here. It would be pretty easy for them.

"Would he do it? I don't know.

I might if I were him."

The team plans to again spend the last part of today's practice operating under the canned noise.

Burris, having played a couple of seasons in Saskatchewan, knows the best way to quiet the Regina crowd is by putting points on the board.

"Their fans back the 'Riders with as much passion as any fan base in all of sports," Burris said. "I expect it to be in a hostile environment.

"We haven't been in a situation this season where we've had to go 'silent count,' so we're getting ready in case we have to do it against Saskatchewan. We're preparing for every situation ... It's a hostile environment but that's what you have to expect this time of year, wherever you go to play."

While the 'Riders have competed in the playoffs the last three years, their fans haven't enjoyed a post-season game at Taylor Field since 1988.

The Stamps, conversely, haven't qualified for the post-season since 2001 when they shocked everyone by winning the Grey Cup despite an 8-10 regular-season record. That year, games down the stretch meant everything and the club is once again getting a taste of late-season pressure.

"This is where you want to be," said Buratto, whose charges could finish as high as second or low as fourth in the West. "You want to play games in October and November that are meaningful."

EXTRA POINTS: Veteran centre Jamie Crysdale expects to have arthroscopic surgery today on his left knee. He will be replaced by rookie Godfrey Ellis ... The Roughriders are expected to add former Stamps R Travis Moore, a healthy scratch the last eight games.


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