Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Goodell won't fret over sub officials

NEW YORK — Commissioner Roger Goodell said he is not worried about using replacement officials during the regular season.

With the labor deal expired, the league has locked out the officials and is using replacements.

"We think they'll do a very credi­ble job," Goodell said. "We have controversial calls. They're not going to be correct all the time, but we have systems in place to try to help. We have instant replay, as an example."

Mike Arnold, the officials' lead negotiator, said there have been no talks since July 27. "The league has apparently predetermined that they're going to keep us locked out until the third or fourth week of the regular season," he said.

Mistakes by replacement officials, primarily taken from lower-level colleges, have included calling a touchback when a punt was downed at the 5, failing to negate an interception after a defensive penalty and failing to call helmet-to-helmet hits. Said Arnold, "It's not our job to judge the replacements because their performance speaks for itself."

The primary issues include making some referees full time — currently all officials are part time — and adding crews while decreasing the pay for current ones.

Ex-Eagles star dies: Steve Van Buren, the Hall of Famer who led the Eagles to titles in 1948 and 1949, died of pneumonia in Lancaster, Pa. He was 91. Mr. Van Buren led the league in rushing four times, was a five-time All-Pro and was picked for the NFL's 75th anniversary team in 1994. The former LSU star was nicknamed "Wham-Bam" for his quick and punishing running style. "I've seen them all — Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski," Greasy Neale, Van Buren's coach with the Eagles, told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1957, "but he's the greatest."

Portis retires: Running back Clinton Portis signed with the Redskins in order to retire with them. Portis, 30, has been out of the league since 2010. The former University of Miami star rushed for 9,923 yards over two seasons with the Broncos and seven with the Redskins. His 6,824 yards for Washington are second all time behind John Riggins.

More Redskins: Running back Tim Hightower, out since tearing his left ACL on Oct. 23, is scheduled to play Saturday.

Bills: Defensive tackle Torell Troup, a UCF standout still recovering from December surgery to fuse two discs in his back, went on season-ending injured reserve.

Cowboys: Tight end Jason Witten's recovery from a lacerated spleen is "going fairly well," coach Jason Garrett said. Garrett added more will be known about Witten's status for the opener after he sees a doctor Tuesday.

49ers: Colin Kaepernick will be the No. 2 quarterback. That leaves former Buc Josh Johnson to battle incumbent Scott Tolzien for No. 3.

Jaguars: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, holding out for a renegotiated deal, said, "Things are going to work out." He didn't say if a deal or trade was near.

Jets: Receiver Santonio Holmes, out since Aug. 4 with various injuries, said he might play Sunday.

Packers: Tight end Jermichael Finley, expected to make his preseason debut after dealing with a concussion, instead stayed with his wife and newborn child.

Steelers: Al Everest, a special teams coordinator for various teams over the past 15 seasons, was fired.

Titans: Punt returner Marc Mariani broke his left leg while being tackled against the Cardinals. Also, cornerback Jason McCourty signed a five-year extension that the Tennessean reported is worth $43 million ($20 million guaranteed).

Bounties: The league denied reports by ESPN.com and ProFootballTalk.com that it offered to halve the one-year suspension of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in exchange for dropping a libel suit against Goodell.

No changes: A new trade deadline and tweak to injured reserve rules won't happen after the players failed to approve them. Owners voted to let one player come off IR after Week 8 instead of being out all season and move the deadline from Week 6 to Week 8.

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