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.''
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (quadriceps) and running back Ronald Jones II (knee) both missed practice on Monday, putting their availability for the preseason game on Friday against the Browns into question. Head coach Bruce Arians said the injuries are nothing serious, and both players are day-to-day. Jones is expected to play Friday, but the team is less certain about Evans. Evans has yet to make a catch in the preseason so far. Barring setbacks, both players should be ready for Week 1. Evans is a WR1 in fantasy and should be even more valuable in head coach Bruce Arians' offense. Jones was a bust as a rookie but will have plenty of opportunities to become the team's lead back in 2019.
Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday after they moved recently signed running back D'Onta Foreman to Injured Reserve. Behind running backs Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack, there are some snaps available that West could capitalize on while fellow running back Jordan Wilkins is recovering from injury. West showed some flashes during his time with the Chiefs, and he will be fighting for a roster spot as camp winds down.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (back) returned to practice on Monday after being scratched as a precaution before the preseason game last Thursday against the Ravens due to back tightness. However, it's still uncertain if Rodgers will play in the preseason game Thursday against the Raiders in Canada. Head coach Matt LaFleur said Rodgers "looked pretty good today to me" on Monday. Even though he's learning a new offensive scheme, it's not necessary that Rodgers play in the remaining preseason games. There's obvious rebound potential for Rodgers and Green Bay's offense in 2019 under LaFleur. He's a top-five fantasy signal-caller.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (shoulder) will make his preseason debut on Thursday against the Patriots, according to head coach Ron Rivera. It's unclear how much Newton will play in the contest. The 30-year-old is coming off a second straight offseason with right shoulder surgery, and reports out of training camp suggest he has a new throwing motion designed to take pressure and torque off his shoulder. Running back Christian McCaffrey, linebacker Luke Kuechly and tight end Greg Olsen will also play Thursday. Many will be down on Newton based on how his 2018 season ended, but he'll still have plenty of QB1 potential if he's healthy. Newton could be a value as a low-end QB1 this year.
Updating previous reports, San Francisco 49ers S Adrian Colbert (hamstring) and DE Damontre Moore (thumb) will not return to the preseason game Monday, Aug. 19, because of their injuries.
Chicago Bears tight end Adam Shaheen is still working his way up to full speed with three weeks until the regular season begins. The third-year tight end suffered a back injury early on in camp and has been slow to get back into the swing of things. Shaheen has excellent 50/50-ball talent and is a red zone threat but has struggled mightily staying healthy during his short career. The chances of Shaheen making an impact early on in the regular season are getting slimmer by the day.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald is dealing with an unknown ailment that head coach Mike Tomlin calls "day-to-day." While the coach didn't expand on details in his media presser, he didn't seem the slightest bit concerned about it saying, "he'll be fine." Likely just a stinger, it shouldn't keep McDonald out of the team's third preseason game on Sunday against the Titans. McDonald has been getting some serious fantasy hype amongst a relatively barren tight end position. His ADP has crept up and he is going as high as the seventh round in mock drafts. Granted he can stay healthy, he provides a nice mix of safety and upside, compared to guys going around him like Eric Ebron and David Njoku.
Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock (hand) and rookie tight end Noah Fant (foot) were both injured in Monday's preseason game against the 49ers and are questionable to return. Lock went 7-for-12 for 40 yards before departing, while Fant caught two passes for seven yards on three targets. Both players will be instrumental to Denver's future, but it remains to be seen how much they'll play in their rookie seasons. Fant has the better chance to be fantasy relevant as Denver attempts to finally get some production from the tight end position. Lock could see some starts at some point if Joe Flacco falters. Both players are most attractive in dynasty/keeper formats in 2019. Stay tuned for more information on their respective injuries.
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice (knee) is expected to play in the preseason game against the Falcons on Thursday, but it'll likely be his only preseason action, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Guice tore his ACL and missed his entire rookie season and had several setbacks along the way in his recovery. Washington would like Guice to see most of the backfield touches in his second year, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to handle that kind of a workload. The 'Skins also have Adrian Peterson, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson, so they could choose to play it safe with the young back early in the year. Despite the risk, Guice is a worthy investment in the middle rounds.
Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro will be the team's starting kicker for the final two preseason games after the team released Elliott Fry. Pineiro reportedly converted on 84 percent of his kicks during training camp while Fry kicked at an 81 percent clip. Pineiro is 3-for-4 through the first two preseason games and will handle all of the kicking duties to convince the team he should stick around for Week 1. The Bears do not appear to be committed to Pineiro at all at this time, so look for them to scour the league for available kickers after teams make their final cuts. The Bears kicking situation should be closely monitored all the way up to Week 1 of the 2019 season and avoided in fantasy leagues.
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton is confident he will be ready to take on the Packers in Week 1 of the 2019 season. Burton is recovering from sports hernia surgery and has suffered some minor setbacks during training camp. The veteran tight end wasn't happy with his strength when he initially came back and took a week off to get his body right. Burton still has not practiced with the team but hopes to be out there with his teammates September 5 in Chicago. Burton's poor second half in 2018, combined with his current injury situation, pushes the talented tight end out of the top-8 among his position group in fantasy.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said that wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) is set to start practicing as early as Sunday. Ross, 23, has blazing speed but has yet to put it all together in the NFL in his two seasons. Injuries continue to hamper him along the way. He had just 21 catches for 210 yards with seven touchdowns in 13 games last year. The upside remains evident, but most fantasy owners want to see more consistency before they take a chance on him. Consider him worth a late-round flier for receiver depth.
Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop passed his physical and was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Monday. Succop should be ready for the regular season, barring any setbacks. The 32-year-old kicker is in his sixth year with the Titans. He made 26 of his 30 field goal tries last year (86.7 percent) and 28 of his 31 extra points. Succop is an adequate kicker, but Tennessee's run-first offense often stalls due to their lack of a consistent deep threat. Succop can be a decent bye-week filler when the time comes, but you can probably do better with your starting kicker.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller is expected to be questionable to practice this week after injuring his ankle during a practice drill last week. The second-year receiver is also recovering from shoulder surgery, further complicating his possible availability for Week 1. Miller needs reps with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and is missing valuable time. He is not expected to see the field during the preseason but his fantasy value currently is tied to whether Miller is in lock-step with the offense right out of the gate in 2019. Miller has the potential to lead Bears receivers in fantasy points this season but health is a concern moving forward.
Chicago Bears running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is not expected to play in the Bears final two preseason games. Patterson signed with the Bears in the offseason and is expected to play multiple roles in the offense this season. The veteran is expected to return kicks, run deep routes and even pick up a few carries from the backfield. Patterson scored five total touchdowns (one rushing, one returning, three receiving) for the Patriots last season and is expected to be the focal point of some interesting play-calls this season. Patterson's fantasy value is tied to touchdowns but his lack of projected touches makes him unusable in most fantasy formats.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Riley Ridley's professional debut was a success in the Bears second preseason game, catching three passes for 19 yards. But the rookie made positive plays on the field that don't show up in the stat sheet, leading Bears receivers in blocking efficiency during his 28 snaps played. Ridley looked smooth out of his breaks, a step in the right direction after the talented receiver hurt his hamstring early in camp. Rookie pass-catchers often struggle to make an impact right out of the gate so Ridley's value, at this time, is tied solely to dynasty and keeper leagues for the 2019 fantasy season.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey only had a few chances on Sunday night but he made them count, knocking in a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter and an extra point in the third. Newcomer Kaare Vedvik was brought in for an extra point in the fourth quarter, and there's a non-zero chance that the Norway product is gunning for Bailey's job. It seems more likely that Vedvick will serve as the punter, but it's crucial for the Vikings to figure out their special teams situation as it has been a major issue during the Zimmer era. Bailey was a disappointing 21-for-28 (75%) last season - a far cry from his 86.6% career average on field goal attempts. He's currently being taken as the 17th kicker off the board. Keep an eye on this situation as we move through the preseason.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Javon Wims has a strong chance to make the Week 1 roster after catching five passes for 64 yards in the Bears preseason loss. The second-year receiver looks like he belongs out on the field and was the only consistent weapon for the Bears in the second preseason game. Wims has quietly progressed since being drafted but still would be listed as the sixth receiver on the depth chart if he were to make the team. He will have plenty of opportunities to cement his status and should play plenty of snaps in the final two exhibition games.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel has not played a single snap in the Bears first two preseason games and isn't expected to see the field until Week 1. The veteran is healthy but coach Matt Nagy is electing to hold all of the starters to practice reps only until the team kicks off the season September 5 against the Packers. Gabriel will provide solid, if unspectacular, bench value in deeper fantasy formats.
San Francisco 49ers S Adrian Colbert (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury during the preseason game Monday, Aug. 19, and is considered questionable to return.