Brees channels Belichick on replacement officials: It is what it is

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Brees channels Belichick on replacement officials: It is what it is

FOXBORO -- Last summer, it was the players who were locked out by the NFL. This year, it's the officials.

NFL game officials are looking for a raise, and in their absence have arrived replacements. Substitute referees have been at Gillette Stadium this week to not only monitor play between the Patriots and Saints, but also to hone their knowledge of the NFL rule book.

They haven't made much noise in the last two days, but the men in stripes did make a few calls on Wednesday. Two defensive holding calls were made; a personal foul call would have been made -- the closest official waived his yellow flag in the play's general direction -- when Jimmy Graham got up and spiked a ball near Dont'a Hightower's feet after a catch; later in the practice, a play that appeared as though it could have been called pass interference on the Saints was not called; also, Tyler Urban juggled a Ryan Mallett pass as he stepped out of bounds in the end zone, but the closest official raised his arms and ruled it a score.

There were no real egregious errors made by the officials, it appeared. But former vice president and senior director of NFL officiating Mike Pereira feels as though it's only a matter of time before the league discovers the difficult situation in which the substitutes have been placed.

"I feel bad for the replacement people," Pereira told WSCR-AM in Chicago on Tuesday. "They're so overwhelmed."

Drew Brees wouldn't say whether or not he's concerned about the subs -- who have been plucked from college and high school leagues -- affecting the outcomes of games negatively.

"It is what it is," Brees said after an extended pause. "I understand that those control what goes on with the officials or those negotiations so whoever is out there officiating is officiating, and we'll just focus on doing our job."

Saints interim coach Joe Vitt had a similar sentiment, even though -- as Pereira pointed out in his interview -- there were several missed calls in the preseason opener between the Saints and the Cardinals on Sunday.

"We're gonna play the hand we're dealt" he said. "We're out here to get better. We're not gonna complain about the officials, we're not gonna talk to the officials. Do your job. If there's a bad call we'll see it and give you a mulligan somewhere down the line. Just get better at what you're doing."

It would be reasonable to assume that the replacement officials may miss some calls that the regulars would not. But will players try to take advantage of the inexperienced eyes upon them? Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly said no. He and his teammates on the line won't be trying to get away with anything any more than they normally would.

"What we try to do is try to be in the best position and do the technique right to not get called for anything," he said. "We're not out there trying to commit fouls and avoid getting caught. We're trying to do it right, and if you do it right, you're not going to get called for anything."

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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