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NFL roundup: Time growing short to reach agreement with referes

The SportsXchange

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL recognizes the clock is ticking and time is short for the NFL Referees Association and the league to settle their differences before the 2012 regular-season opener Sept. 5.

"We're anxious to get a deal done," Goodell said at a fantasy football convention in New York City. "But it has to get done that it's going to help us for the long term. It's not a short-term issue."

THE NFL proposed making at least one official from every crew a full-timer, while adding additional crews that would sharpen performance by replacing those that don't meet performance expectations. Goodell said he wants what coaches, players and fans want -- officials who have earned the right to work the game based on performance.

Goodell estimated that regular officials would need at least a week to prepare for the season. A full schedule of Week 1 games will be played Sept. 9.

If no agreement is reached, the NFL would go into the regular season with replacement officials for the second time in 11 years. They also used replacements for Week 1 of the 2001 season.

"These officials have been trained," said Goodell. "We think they'll do a credible job."

---The Washington Redskins won't have Evan Royster for Saturday's preseason dress rehearsal against the Indianapolis Colts.

Royster has a sore right knee that the team claims wouldn't keep him out of a regular-season game. An MRI exam came back clean, but Royster and Roy Helu will be inactive for Saturday's game. Helu has Achilles soreness.

--The Rams signed former first-round pick Vernon Gholston to a one-year deal.

Gholston was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft but the Ohio State product didn't make the transition from college defensive end to 3-4 rush linebacker with the Jets. He was released after three seasons and never recorded a sack in a regular-season game.

--Players voted down proposed changes owners had previously approved that would have moved the trade deadline back two weeks and also allowed teams to bring back one player who had entered the regular season on injured reserve.

The proposal required the players association approval. According to FOXSports.com, the NFLPA tried to get concessions from the league on other collectively bargained matters in exchange for accepting the new rules.

--The Jets benched right tackle Wayne Hunter in favor of third-year veteran Austin Howard.

Hunter allowed four sacks in Friday's preseason loss to the Giants, and coach Rex Ryan said on Monday he wasn't ready to be "painted into a corner" by committing to Hunter as his starter. Hunter also allowed 8.5 sacks last season.

Ryan said Thursday Howard wasn't assured of starting Week 1, either, an indication that the team is expectedly shopping for a veteran.

--The New York Jets and general manager Mike Tannenbaum haven't been the type to back down from a gamble, but they're bowing out of the Maurice Jones-Drew sweepstakes early.

According to the New York Daily News, the Jets have ruled out a deal for the disgruntled Jaguars' running back, who is holding out for a new contract with two years remaining on his current deal.

--- In a move that seems odd with the start of the regular season approaching, the Pittsburgh Steelers have parted ways with special teams coordinator Al Everest, Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com reported Thursday.

No reason for the move has been reported, but the timing is unusual.

Assistant special teams coach Amos Jones will assume all of the special teams responsibility.

---The Tennessee Titans signed cornerback Jason McCourty to a five-year contract extension worth $43 million, NFL.com reported Thursday.

In addition to the $1.26 million base salary McCourty is due this season, his contract for the next six years calls for him to earn about $44.3 million.

McCourty started 15 games for the Titans last season, when he had two interceptions and 52 tackles.
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