Is the NFL headed for replacement refs?

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Is the NFL headed for replacement refs?

From Comcast SportsNet
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- With no end in sight to the labor dispute between the NFL and its officials, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he is comfortable with the idea of using replacement officials in preseason games. Goodell said he doesn't think using officials with less experience will pose a safety risk to players. "That's why we've been training them for the last two months and why they're on the field now, is to make sure they're prepared, they understand the rules," Goodell said during a visit to Green Bay's training camp. Replacement officials were on the field during practice Wednesday and are expected to stay in Green Bay through Friday's "Family Night" scrimmage. The Hall of Fame Game between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints is Sunday. Members of the NFL Referees Association were locked out in June after talks broke down. "We are in discussions with them," Goodell said. "We've had discussions recently. Hopefully we'll have more discussions with them in the near future. But as you can see, we're preparing for the season and we will have officials on the field. We hope that the officials from last season will be on the field again this year but to date, we haven't been able to get an agreement that makes sense for both parties." Goodell said the main emphasis in negotiations from the league's perspective was to find ways to improve officiating. "We proposed an idea where we could have another 21 officials so we could help train them and have a deeper pool of officials and be able to potentially move them in and out," Goodell said. "And that's something that we're discussing with the officials. But the whole issue is, how do we continue to improve the officials?" The purpose for the proposed pool of additional officials hasn't been clearly defined, but it could become a way for the league to promote and demote officials based on their performance. Goodell said the league also has offered officials a pay raise as part of negotiations. "Of course, they're interested in compensation and benefits, we understand that," Goodell said. "We've made a proposal we think is fair, with an increase. It's five to 11 percent per official. We think we've been responsive on that, and hopefully we can get something done." Packers coach Mike McCarthy says he doesn't have any concerns about the use of replacement officials. "To me it's something that everybody has to deal with," McCarthy said. "(Supervisor of officials) Ed Coukart is here with the new officials, they worked practice today. We will spend some time tomorrow with the officials in our meetings as we have done annually. We're just moving forward. We're getting ready to play games and it's a business issue. As we know from the past, those things will get worked out, and we're just focused on our football team." Packers players generally seemed unaware of the ongoing labor dispute or the presence of replacement officials; the team usually has a group of local officials, generally with high school experience, present during practice. "I really don't pay much attention to those guys, other than the fact that I noticed none of them looked familiar," guard T.J. Lang said. "Talking about the refs, I don't really know what their situation is, so I can't really speak on that. But whoever they have in there, I'm sure they're going to get them coached up." Joked linebacker Desmond Bishop, "I had no idea about that. I was too focused on John Madden out there." The former Raiders coach and broadcasting icon also was at practice Wednesday. Goodell also was asked about recent comments from Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy, who said at last week's shareholders meeting that he couldn't support an 18-game regular season schedule because of health and safety concerns. "We haven't had any discussion about it," Goodell said. "Our view was, we were going to have to go through a full cycle of the offseason, training camp. We'll obviously be done with that shortly and then we'll get back to really analyzing it and trying to say, What are the positives and negatives about it?'" Goodell said he was not sure if the league has received an application for reinstatement from former Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, who is suspended indefinitely for violations of the league's substance abuse policy. And with three Packers players -- defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal, along with linebacker Erik Walden -- all facing league suspensions once the regular season starts, Goodell was asked whether he sees a trend developing from recent reports of player misconduct. "Fortunately, the vast majority of our players are terrific," Goodell said. "They do the right things on and off the field. And that's what we encourage. We have rules, we have policies, we want to make sure those are held to the highest standards, because we think our fans deserve it. And so If there's a violation or there's a trend, there's consequences for that."

Cyrus Jones: I was scared of Tom Brady growing up as a Ravens fan

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Cyrus Jones: I was scared of Tom Brady growing up as a Ravens fan

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady has struck fear into the hearts of many a cornerback during his 15 years as a starter. Apparently that includes corners who haven't even entered the league yet. 

Cyrus Jones, a corner out of Alabama and New England's second-round pick in this year's draft, grew up in Baltimore as a staunch Ravens supporter. When his team squared off against the Patriots over the years, he said that Brady never allowed him to feel confident. 

"I grew up a Ravens fan so anytime we played the Patriots, I definitely was scared of Tom Brady," Jones said after being introduced to reporters by Patriots ownership. "But obviously, you know, he's one of the greatest quarterbacks to step foot into this league, and I'm just honored to be a part of his team.

"He's a winner, and everybody likes winning. I consider myself a winner so I'm looking forward to working with him and trying to get to another Super Bowl and winning."

Jones now joins a cornerback group that will compete against Brady regularly in practice that includes Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts and EJ Biggers.

Jones ready to follow in Revis, Law's footsteps with No. 24

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Jones ready to follow in Revis, Law's footsteps with No. 24

FOXBORO -- For the Patriots, the No. 24 is held in high esteem when it comes to the cornerback position. Ty Law, a team Hall of Famer, wore those digits for 10 years. Darrelle Revis played just one season in New England, but he helped the team to its fourth Super Bowl title with No. 24 on his back. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft announced on Friday that second-round draft pick Cyrus Jones, a corner from Alabama, would be the latest to sport the number. 

"Cyrus will be wearing a special number to our family, No. 24," Kraft said. "There's a lot of good karma that goes with that number."

Jones was just two years old when Ty Law began his rookie season in 1995, but he said he understood Law's historical significance to the franchise despite their age difference.

"I knew who Ty Law was before I came here," Jones said, "and watched him as a young kid still trying to learn the game. Definitely remember him making a lot of plays on TV."

Of course there have been others who have worn No. 24 since Law and before Jones, including Kyle Arrington, Bradley Fletcher, and most recently Rashaan Melvin. But what Revis did for the Patriots in 2014 is still fresh in Jones' mind, having beaten Jones' hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens, in the Divisional Round of the playoffs before helping the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX.

"It's definitely a lot of history, guys like Ty Law, Darrelle Revis," Jones said. "Great defensive backs and great players. Two of the greatest players ever to step foot in the National Football League. There's definitely a legacy behind the number, and I want to make my own legacy with the number."

Curran: New deal's a win-win for Amendola and Patriots

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Curran: New deal's a win-win for Amendola and Patriots

Danny Amendola’s not going anywhere. The Patriots wideout -- whose 2016 salary of $5 million and cap hit of $6.8 million were sticking out like a sore thumb -- reworked his deal according to a league source.

Amendola, who also reworked his contract in 2015, agreed to a two-year, $7.35 million deal with $750,000 in roster bonuses and incentives. Mike Garofalo of FOX Sports first reported the deal (yay, Mike!!).

In a statement, Amendola said, “It’s an honor to play for this franchise and with this group of guys. We have one goal – to win another Championship and that’s all we care about.”

This is a win-win for Amendola and the team.

Signed as a free agent in 2013 to a five-year, $28 million deal, injuries prevented Amendola from settling into a role until the tail end of 2014. Once he did, he became a valuable alternate weapon to Julian Edelman as opposed to the redundancy as a quick, mid-range little dude.

In the 2014 Super Bowl run, Amendola had 11 catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns in three postseason games. Last year, he caught 65 for 648 yards and three touchdowns and led the league in punt return average (12-yard average on 23 returns).

At 30 and with a playing style and slight build that leads to injuries, Amendola -- despite his recent work -- probably would have had a tough time getting a better deal on the open market.

Meanwhile, given the track record of receiver pickups in New England, it’s very likely a free agent signee with more upside (like Mohamed Sanu or Marvin Jones) would have cost more but contributed less. Having Tom Brady’s trust, an understanding of the program and the ability to catch 60 passes and return punts are hard to overstate.

This redo was something everyone saw as needing to happen. Now that it has, the Patriots pay structure at wideout isn’t out of whack as it was and the team has some certainty going into minicamps about who will be here.

The team now has on its roster (in order of perceived on-field value) Edelman, Amendola, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin, Malcolm Mitchell, Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Devin Lucien and De’Andre Carter in the fold.

Washington, Dobson, Harper, Lucien and Carter will fight to stick.