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Interference or not, NFL refs preparing for replay reviews

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.''

Player Notes
Doug Marrone Aug 20 7:30pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee won't play Thursday against the Dolphins. The third preseason game is traditionally the one where a team gives their starters the most snaps and the Jaguars are expected to do just that after resting nearly every key player for the first two preseason contests. But Lee, who was just activated from the PUP list after a knee injury last season, is being brought along slowly and head coach Doug Marrone clearly doesn't think he needs to be on a football field yet. Lee was a popular sleeper pick when it looked like he'd be a full go this year, but he's sliding down the rankings as it continues to look like he won't start the year as part of the team's main receiver grouping.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Akins Aug 20 7:20pm ET

Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins was picked by Aaron Reiss of The Athletic as the most improved player at Texans' training camp this year. Akins was constantly making big plays in practice and showing off his versatility. With Jordan Thomas missing most of camp, Akins may actually be in the lead at this point to open the season as Houston's top tight end. That might not translate to much fantasy value on a team that's reportedly interested in keeping four tight ends, but Akins is worth a spot in dynasty leagues in case he emerges as the number-one guy at the position.

From RotoBaller

Tevin Coleman Aug 20 5:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman had three carries for 21 yards rushing in Monday night's preseason game against the Broncos. As the primary back in Atlanta in 2018 because of Devonta Freeman's injury, Coleman ran a career-high 167 times for 800 yards (4.8 yards per tote) and four touchdowns. He added 32 receptions for 276 yards and another five scores. He lacks the prototypical size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) to be an in-between-the-tackles lead back, and he'll share snaps with Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon, which will limit his fantasy ceiling. Still, Coleman has experience with head coach Kyle Shanahan and should be San Fran's most attractive fantasy running back in PPR leagues, just don't reach for him like many did for McKinnon in 2018.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Aug 20 5:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) has made remarkable progress since tearing his ACL last November. He looks to be on track for Week 1 against the Panthers and wasn't placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to open training camp. Head coach Sean McVay stated at the end of July that Kupp looks better than before his injury. "It sounds crazy but he looks more explosive than he was before, actually," McVay said. The Rams are avoiding using Kupp in preseason action, as they do with most of their starters, but he should be ready for Week 1 and makes for a solid WR2 with some slight injury risk.

From RotoBaller

Robert Foster Aug 20 5:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Foster (foot) was injured during Monday's practice. The details of the injury haven't been released at this point, but Foster was seen walking off the practice field with his left foot wrapped in ice. The team's next preseason game is Friday against the Lions and Foster should be considered questionable at this point. Foster already has a depth chart hurdle to overcome with John Brown, Cole Beasley and Zay Jones currently ahead of him in the wide receiver pecking order, so an injury that keeps him out of preseason action could just bury him further.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Aug 20 5:30pm ET

With Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) healthy, the team has a "four-headed monster" at receiver, including Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Kupp and Josh Reynolds. We have a lot of receivers making key plays, Woods said. Cause Josh has been making plays, but just to get Cooper back in it . . . four different styles of receivers and four different ways to attack your defense. Kupp isn't wearing a brace and has felt good in training camp. He was on pace to be the team's third 1,000-yard receiver in 2018 before his injury. It gives quarterback Jared Goff plenty of options, as the Rams finished second in the NFL in scoring last year and produced 32.9 points per game. You really can't go wrong with any of Cooks, Woods or Kupp in fantasy as your No. 2 wideout. Kupp has some injury risk but is also at times Goff's most reliable target. Cooks and Woods are ranked slightly higher at RotoBaller at No. 16 and 17, respectively, among receivers.

From RotoBaller

Jerick McKinnon Aug 20 5:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) is not expected to take part in team drills this week as he continues to wait for his injured knee to respond to platelet-rich plasma injection he had 17 days ago.

From TheHuddle

Amari Cooper Aug 20 5:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (heel) is unlikely to play in the remainder of the preseason, but he's hopeful he can practice with the team by the end of the week. He's been out of practice since Aug. 6, and the Cowboys won't risk playing him in a preseason game. Cooper is dealing with "a form of plantar fasciitis" but has improved in recent weeks. He doesn't seem to worried about playing with the injury, but the hope is that it's resolved by the time Week 1 against the Giants comes around. "I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before." The injury is more worrisome to those considering drafting Cooper as a high-end WR2, especially after he excelled in his nine games with Dallas last year after being traded from Oakland. He's become much more of a risk in the early rounds now.

From RotoBaller

Drew Lock Aug 20 5:10pm ET

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock (hand) is likely done for the rest of the preseason after an MRI on his right hand showed a bad sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The second-round selection suffered the injury in the preseason game Monday night against the 49ers while being sacked. The good news is that his injury won't require surgery, but he might not be ready for the regular season. In three preseason games, the rookie had gone 31-for-51 (60.8 percent) for 254 yards, a touchdown and interception. Lock could start games this year if Joe Flacco struggles, but he's mainly a dynasty league target in fantasy leagues. Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien will back up Flacco with Lock injured.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Howard Aug 20 5:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles RB Jordan Howard has 'ran the ball quite well throughout camp,' according to NJ.com's Zack Rosenblatt, who concedes that rookie Miles Sanders will 'almost certainly' overtake Howard at some point. However, Rosenblatt expects Howard will stay play a role and be one of the team's top options when it comes to short-yardage situations and in the red zone.

From TheHuddle

Noah Fant Aug 20 4:30pm ET

Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant hauled in two receptions against the 49ers on Monday, the notable catch being a dump pass from quarterbackJoe Flacco that the rookie tight end turned into an 11-yard run with a nice shake of the 49ers linebacker. So far, Fant's athleticism has looked to be a problem for linebackers and defensive backs trying to guard him. Fant continues to lead a depleted tight end corps for Denver but has yet to be penciled in as a top tight end in regards to fantasy value.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Aug 20 4:23pm ET

New England Patriots WR Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) was activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday, Aug. 20.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Aug 20 4:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (knee) was seen participating in full pads despite having his left knee heavily wrapped during the open portion of practice Tuesday, Aug. 20.

From TheHuddle

Devontae Booker Aug 20 4:20pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker was put to the test with first-team reps, alternating with teammate Royce Freeman in what seemed like a battle for the RB2 spot on the roster. Booker outshined Freeman, averaging 3.8 yards per carry in his four attempts, as his counterpart Freeman struggled to net positive yardage. Booker has been a step behind Freeman all offseason but continues to compete for the 2nd spot behind lead-back Phillip Lindsay.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Aug 20 4:13pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny has routinely flashed the ability to 'make one-handed grabs with the same ease as some of the NFL's stickiest-fingered receivers' and is expected to be a bigger factor than he was during his rookie season, according to ESPN's Brady Henderson. Penny echoed sentiments from his position coach (Chad Morton) that he and Chris Carson can become the same kind of one-two punch the New Orleans Saints enjoyed with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram over the last two seasons.

Fantasy Spin: The Seahawks have a long way to go before they can hope to replicate the success of the Saints' backfield, but a nice start would be if Carson (24) and Penny (12) could double their target totals from a year ago. Carson needs to start being considered a huge value pick in the third round, while Penny should be viewed as a flex with RB1 upside if and/or when Carson is forced to sit with an injury.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Brown Aug 20 4:10pm ET

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has rejoined the team Tuesday, getting in his first practice in nearly three weeks. He was on the field in a brand new helmet, and head coach Jon Gruden said hes all in. Ready to go. Brown filed a second grievance with the league yesterday, which will likely fall upon deaf ears, but it appears hes putting this issue in the rearview mirror. His feet are also back to full health, giving him plenty of time to get reps in before Week 1. Whether or not this is the last off-field issue of the season remains to be seen, but the seven-time Pro Bowler is still one of the most dynamic players in the league. He makes a risky choice in the second round, but the fantasy ceiling is sky-high.

From RotoBaller

Jaylon Smith Aug 20 4:03pm ET

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith agreed to terms on an undisclosed 'long-term' contract extension with the team Tuesday, Aug. 20.

From TheHuddle

Royce Freeman Aug 20 4:00pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman struggled after seeing first-team reps Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Freeman got bottled up on a majority of his runs Monday evening, running a team-high five times, but not managing to net positive yards on the evening. In what seemed like a feeler game for the back-up job to Phillip Lindsay among the rest of the running backs on the roster, Freeman's stock took a major hit. The 2nd-year running back looks to rebound in the final weeks of preseason.

From RotoBaller

Mark Andrews Aug 20 3:50pm ET

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrewshas shown out during training camp this year. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec reported, "Andrews probably caught more balls than any other offensive player." Andrews had more receiving yards (552) than all other rookie tight ends last season and was the most productive at his position in Baltimore. He and quarterback Lamar Jackson have an exponentially growing connection that could lead to the sophomore tight end becoming Jackson's favorite red-zone target. The Ravens have several tight ends on the roster, but Andrews provides the highest upside. His current ADP is in the high 140s. He's poised for a breakout season this year and could be a late-round steal in drafts, but that's all dependent on how much we see from Jackson's arm.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Aug 20 3:50pm ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton continues to look comfortable in the Denver Broncos offense, hauling in a 21-yard third-down catch from his new quarterback, Joe Flacco. Sutton has benefited from having an experienced quarterback at the helm of the offense, as he continues to develop in Denver. With teammate Emmanuel Sanders looking healthy in his return last night, Sutton's journey to becoming the undoubted WR1 became slightly more difficult, but he could catapult himself to massive fantasy value with a good season in 2019.

From RotoBaller