Fri Jul 12 5:53pm ET
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
PLANO, Texas (AP) Veteran NFL referee Tony Corrente was quick to make the distinction about what changes now that pass interference can be challenged by coaches and reviewed by officials.
''First of all, the rule has not changed whatsoever. Pass interference is still the same rule that we have had in the past,'' Corrente said Friday. ''We haven't changed our perspective toward it, we haven't changed our interpretations of it whatsoever. It's just the addition of replay.''
The significant difference, however, is the subjective nature of plays that are typically judgment calls that can now be reviewed, beyond objective standards such as whether a player stepped out of bounds or where the ball should be marked.
''That's the new box we've opened,'' said Corrente, going into his 25th season as an NFL official and 22nd as a referee.
All 122 NFL officials are taking part this weekend in their annual clinic. The gathering comes about four months after NFL owners approved by a 31-1 margin to allow pass interference or non-calls to be challenged by coaches until the final two minutes, when officials in the booth can then stop the game for such reviews.
It is an one-season experiment that could very well stick after an egregious missed call in the NFC championship game in January that cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
The NFL competition committee in May decided against making any changes to the new rule approved by owners.
''We understand the play that elevated and got us to where we are today,'' said Alberto Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating.
But Riveron stressed that league officials have been discussing the possibility of such reviews for several years, long before the non-call in the closing minutes of regulation after Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis was hit by cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman in a game the Los Angeles Rams went on to win in overtime.
''The competition committee and ownership is constantly looking at ways to get better. We have discussed replay before as it pertains to other situations. Pass interference, holding, personal fouls,'' Riveron said. ''But we do understand a play of this magnitude elevated us to the point where we are today. But again, it's not new.''
Referee Ron Torbert said officials won't change their approach or what they do on the field. He said the change is just an addition to the list of situations that are subject to review by instant replay.
''We'll still do what we've always done, which is try to get every play right,'' Torbert said.
During the rule's one-year trial this season, coaches still can challenge until the two-minute warning of each half or overtime. A replay official would be responsible for any reviews after that, but would need ''clear and obvious visual evidence'' to review and overturn potential pass interference in an attempt to avoid too many stoppages.
The replay official will have only the angles on the television broadcast available to overturn an on-field decision. Pass interference still is defined as an act significantly hindering the opportunity to make a play on a ball, and all pass plays will be subject to review.
When there are such reviews, Torbert and Corrente said referees will be part of a collaborative effort with Riveron and replay officials in New York looking at the plays. The referees can relay why an official called pass interference - or why they didn't throw a flag.
''That collaboration occurs with any reviewable play,'' Torbert said. ''Not just pass interference.''
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed 10 of his 26 passes for 72 yards and an interception in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday, Aug. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It was an ugly offensive performance for both teams, but it is worth noting that while all the pieces are in place for Mayfield to have a big season, he is still unproven compared to some other QB1 options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon (knee) suffered a knee injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.
Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert nailed all four of his field goal attempts in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. His long field goal went for 54 yards in the loss. The rookie kicker has made headlines for the wrong reasons this preseason due to his struggles with accuracy after Cleveland made him a fifth-round pick in the past draft. Fortunately for Seibert, his main competitor Greg Joseph hasn't been any better in the kicking game. Joseph did not get a chance to play on Friday night, presumably he will get the entire fourth preseason game to show that he is the man for the job. Whoever wins the kicker job will have some fantasy value tied to what will be an exciting offense this season.
The Cleveland Browns defense was excellent in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Cleveland racked up seven sacks in the loss, with five of those sacks coming against Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay's first-string offense. The pass rush looked fierce in the contest, with offseason addition Olivier Vernon picking up two sacks on the evening. Cleveland's defense is expected to be a top-six unit in fantasy this season, making them a defense worth targeting toward the end of fantasy drafts.
Cleveland Browns tight end Demetrius Harris failed to catch any of his four targets in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. With David Njoku not playing, Harris got the start and played into the second quarter with quarterback Baker Mayfield. The veteran tight end is expected to take a secondary role this season but Harris would have some standalone value if Njoku were to suffer an injury. Harris does not need to be drafted in fantasy leagues but he would presumably be a hot waiver add should he find his way into the starting job during the season.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson turned in a solid game in his team's 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Johnson struggled on the ground, gaining just 10 yards on five carries, but he excelled in the passing game with three catches for 43 yards. The former Orlando Apollo is trying his best to make the final Cleveland roster, having gained 86 yards on 20 carries while adding six catches for 69 yards and a score. Johnson is on the radar as an extremely deep dynasty taxi squad stash going forward.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt carried the ball five times for 11 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. He also added a three-yard reception in the game. With Nick Chubb sitting out to rest, Hunt got the start and played into the second quarter in the game. The third-year running back has now totaled 17 rushing yards on seven carries across two preseason games. Hunt has to serve an eight-game suspension to open the season but he's expected to fill the passing-down role behind Chubb once he is reinstated for the second half. He should not be drafted outside of deep leagues this year.
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson had three catches on four targets for 52 yards during the first half of the Lions preseason Week 3 matchup against the Bills. Hockenson and Stafford already seem to be clicking, making it very exciting to see how well that translates into the regular season. For now, Hockenson remains an interesting late round TE depth option in most leagues and an excellent addition to dynasty teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (wrist) injured his left wrist in the preseason game on Thursday night against the Browns. Gabbert was seen on the sidelines wearing a sling, so this injury is likely pretty serious. With the regular season opener coming up quickly, it looks like Ryan Griffin will be the primary backup to starter Jameis Winston in Week 1. Stay tuned for more updates on the exact nature of Gabbert's injury. Gabbert went 4-for-5 for 33 yards before his injury.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught three of his seven targets for 18 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Higgins acted as the team's de facto No. 1 receiver with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry resting. He failed to break any big plays on an evening where Baker Mayfield struggled to move the ball down the field. Thanks to an Antonio Callaway four-game suspension to begin the year, Higgins has the No. 3 wide receiver role locked up to open the season. He has some low-end flex appeal in PPR leagues as he should have a few big games this season.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson again saw a light workload during the Lions Week 3 preseason matchup against the Bills. The Lions, and Johnson, seem to be content with letting him see a few touches each preseason game to see some live action but not enough to really risk injury. Johnson had two carries for four yard and one catch for seven yards against the Bills; but ultimately, he remained healthy and looks ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled in his team's third preseason game on Friday. Mayfield completed 10-of-26 passes for 72 yards and an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played the entire first half, leading his team to just nine points on three field goals. While it was an uninspiring outing for Mayfield, it is worth noting that he was without Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and David Njoku. He won't play in the final preseason game next week, meaning the next time fantasy owners will see him will be the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Mayfield can still be drafted as a QB1 in fantasy despite the poor showing on Friday.
Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills CB Tre'Davious White (quadriceps) suffered a quadriceps contusion in the preseason game against the Detroit Lions Friday, Aug. 23.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went 12/19 for 137 yards and a touchdown in his brief outing during the Lion's Week 3 preseason matchup. Even though it was a brief outing, Stafford was able to prove that he is regular season ready; he will likely remain sidelined for the Lion's final preseason game next week. Stafford is a solid QB2 option and a reasonable QB1 option in deeper leagues on weeks that present favorable matchups. Stafford has weapons to work with in 2019, it'll be interesting to see how he uses them.
Green Bay Packers RB Tra Carson is currently ahead of RB Dexter Williams for the No. 3 running back job because he has a better understanding of blitz pickup, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. 'I think just overall knowledge of knowing what to do, especially when it comes to pass protection,' LaFleur said.
Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) has been ruled out for the remainder of the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a shoulder injury Friday, Aug. 23.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert (wrist) exited the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a left wrist injury Friday, Aug. 23.
Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (hamstring) was on the field running sprints prior to the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders Thursday, Aug. 22.
Buffalo Bills CB Tre'Davious White (leg) exited the preseason game against the Detroit Lions and had his right leg wrapped in ice Friday, Aug. 23.