Time will tell if play changes with regular referees

898113.jpg

Time will tell if play changes with regular referees

FOXBORO -- The inconsistencies of the replacement referees seemed to break both ways during the NFL season's first three weeks. On one play, players might get away with an extra hold here, or a bump of a receiver there. On another, the slightest of infractions might get whistled.

Now that the league's referee lockout is over, the regular officials are back, and with them -- presumably -- more consistent rulings on certain penalties.

But how will the arrival of the league's regular officials change the way players play? Did players try to take advantage of the replacement officials who couldn't keep up with the game's pace? Or were players forced to try to cater to a new set of standards so that they wouldn't be flagged?

"I can't say that I did or didn't," Matthew Slater said when asked if he saw players trying to get away with more during the first three weeks.

"When you start thinking about the calls being made, and thinking that you're going to be jipped by a call then it affects the way you play the game. You live by the law of the land. If they're holding and grabbing, then you just gotta play through it. That's what we had to do and that's what we'll continue to have to do."

Rob Ninkovich said calls made by the replacement officials didn't change how he approached games.

"Everything's going at a real fast pace out there," he said. "You're just trying to play ball. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes the flag's thrown. Sometimes it's not, even when there was the old refs. What it comes down to at the end of the day is it's playing football. You can't really worry about the flags."

Slater said he'd be watching Thursday Night's game between the Ravens and the Browns, but not to see how the new officials change the game.

"I'll be watching the game to see the players play the game," he said. "I'm sure it'll be discussed by the commentators and other people, the networks and things like that. But like I said, nobody's to blame in this situation. It was a tough situation for all parties involved, and now that it's resolved we can move forward."

Patriots bolster receiver depth by adding Brown to practice squad

patriots.jpg

Patriots bolster receiver depth by adding Brown to practice squad

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have added some receiver depth to their locker room by signing Da'Ron Brown to their practice squad. 

Brown, 25, was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015 and spent his rookie season on the Kansas City practice squad. At Northern Illinois, the 6-foot, 199-pounder caught 155 passes in four years, accumulating 2,295 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores in his career. As a senior in 2014, he caught 68 passes for 1,065 yards. 

With the signing, the Patriots have filled out their practice squad. The team has had an opening on its 10-man unit since the Colts signed away receiver Devin Street for their 53-man roster.

With just four receivers on the Patriots roster, not including special teams ace Matthew Slater, they've loaded up on receiver depth through their practice squad with Brown, Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White.

Brissett, Garoppolo both practicing for Patriots on Tuesday

patriots-brissett-092216-1.jpg

Brissett, Garoppolo both practicing for Patriots on Tuesday

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had both of their qurterbacks on the field and suited up for Tuesday's shells-and-sweats practice on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. 

Both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) are dealing with injuries, but both were present for the session, as were the rest of their teammates on the 53-man roster. 

Brissett was spotted in the Patriots locker room before practice with no brace or wrap of any kind on his thumb, but he did have his right thumb taped when out on the field. 

Patriots tight end AJ Derby was the lone player in a black practice jersey, indicating that he has been named practice player of the week. Running low on quarterbacks, Derby may have served as the scout-team quarterback as the Patriots defense prepared for the Texans. He played the position at Iowa and Arkansas before changing positions.

The Patriots have four practices scheduled this week, and the team will release injury reports, as usual, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.