NFL Roundup: Replacement refs on tap, Roethlisberger's shoulder ailing

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

--NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the use of replacement officials, beginning Sunday during the Hall of Fame game preseason opener, isn't a major concern.
While members of the NFL Referees Association, including Ed Hochuli, said in a media conference call that the inexperience of replacement officials would lead to significant safety concerns, Goodell shot down the suggestion.
Goodell said officials, some with NFL experience but recently retired and others from various pro leagues with much different rules, including Arena Football, have been training for two months with the current league safety protocol top of mind.
Officials have been locked out by the NFL since June 3 and talks are not currently active.

--Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday he has a torn rotator cuff but the Steelers' quarterback doesn't believe he'll be limited in any capacity this season.
"I'm good. It's OK, just sore," he told the Post-Gazette on Wednesday. "I have a little torn rotator cuff. That doesn't heal. We just have to hope it doesn't tear the rest of the way, according to the doc."
Roethlisberger said the injury occurred in November -- specifically the Nov. 6 loss to the Ravens. His arm strength doesn't appear to be diminished and Roethlisberger said none of his throws are impacted.
"It's part of getting older, too," he said. "If you watch walkthroughs, I used to throw all the time. Now it's just backing off (throwing). Now I don't ever throw during walk-throughs. It's less throwing, I think that's smart anyway."
Roethlisberger continues to work toward mastery of new coordinator Todd Haley's offense and step further away from the surprise and disappointment that came of the divorce from his close friend and coach Bruce Arians. Roethlisberger said Haley has been open to suggestions and vice versa, he's become more open to Haley's advice.
"Every day, we learn something new about either each other, the relationship, the offense -- something," he said.
"I think (the offense) gives us great opportunities to use the weapons we have. We're still learning it, I mean, we put in part of the offense -- we haven't seen it all yet."
They also haven't seen leading receiver Mike Wallace, a restricted free agent embroiled in a contract spat with the Steelers. General manager said all previous offers are now off the table as the two sides engage in a staredown Roethlisberger said he expects to end soon. He's talking regularly to Wallace, mainly to voice support, and said he expects to have him at practice in the near future.
"I don't know what's going on with his agent or what they're telling each other, but he wants to be here," Roethlisberger said. "I believe he will be here and I think he'll be here soon."
Wallace, a restricted free agent who balked at signing a one-year, $2.742 million tender, led the Steelers with 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns last season, just ahead of Antonio Brown (69-1,108-2) last season. Wallace wants a lucrative long-term extension.
Brown was rewarded last week with a five-year, $42 million contract extension.

--Well-respected Saints quarterback Drew Brees told NFL Network on Wednesday that he was representing the league's consensus opinion earlier this week when he said nobody trusts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"I was asked a direct question: How do players in the league feel about the commissioner?'" Brees told Marshall Faulk of NFL Network. "I've talked to many, many players obviously. I'm on the executive committee of the Players Association. So I talk to a lot of the guys who are involved in the union, and certainly my teammates and others. And I think that there is a general feeling that the players don't trust the commissioner."
Brees said in the interview that he has a very honest relationship with Goodell and doesn't expect that to change.
"It just happens to be that the big topic or issue this offseason has been the bounty allegations," he said. "Unfortunately, my team, my organization, has been directly affected in a very negative way by those allegations. The process is still ongoing and I think that we've said and done as much as we can do to prove our innocence. I would say that we felt the process from the very beginning has not been fair. But I think if you really want to look at where we're at right now, it's not over. I think we believe the commissioner has a great opportunity to come to a positive resolution."
Brees submitted a sworn affidavit in support of suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma, saying Vilma's absence would "have a significant impact on our team and within the community." The court document is part of Vilma's defamation lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against Goodell, the motive of which is to have his yearlong suspension lifted.

--Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn't planning to provide a transcript of his pointed conversation with troubled wide receiver Dez Bryant on Tuesday.
Jones is glad to share the gist of the talk with the player he expected to be the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver in 2012 -- actions have consequences, and he's rapidly approaching do-or-die territory.
"The alternative is for him not to be a Dallas Cowboy," Jones told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram Wednesday. "I don't want to get into the detail of what we talked about. But you can assume it's real clear we have to have him adhere to not only NFL rules but rules of society.
"There are two problems here: One is not only a recognition of how serious this is and a recognition of the perception that is not good. Controversy is not good. There is also the issue of being able to rely on him, the teammates, the coaches and the people that run the team. If we can't rely on him that's dire consequences."
Bryant was the Cowboys' first-round pick in 2010. He's subject to disciplinary action stemming from a July 16 arrest for allegedly assaulting his mother, who has since denied there was physical activity despite her frantic -- and now public -- 911 call.

--Rams' defensive end Chris Long's four-year contract extension, signed last week, is worth $48.2 million in new money and includes no signing bonus.
However, in addition to guaranteeing his 2012 salary, Long's salaries of $13.25 million in 2013 and $13.2 million in 2014 are guaranteed. The 2014 salary is currently guaranteed for injury only, but will become fully guaranteed if he is on the roster five days after this season's Super Bowl.
That would make the total guarantee $36.75 million.
His salary-cap figure of 2012 actually increased slightly because of a $250,000 escalator that was based on his 2011 play.
Previously, Long's non-guaranteed base salary for 2012 was $10.06 million with a cap figure of $18,307, 500. Now, his base salary of $10.3 million is guaranteed and his cap charge is $18,547,500. The extra $8 million-plus against the cap is from signing bonuses in his original contract and a restructuring that was done last September.
In 2015, his base salary is $9.75 million plus a $2 million roster due on the third day of the league year. In 2016, the final year of the contract, his salary is $9.75 million with another $2 million roster bonus also due on the third day of the league year.
Because there is no new signing bonus, his cap figures from 2013-2014 are his base salaries and in 2015-2016 are his salaries plus the roster bonuses.

--Suspended Packers' defensive lineman Johnny Jolly has not applied to the NFL for reinstatement.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday in Green Bay, where he visited camp and talked with coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson at the Packers' morning training camp practice, that Jolly wasn't under consideration for review of his indefinite suspension because the appropriate paperwork hasn't been filed.
Jolly said June 19 that he had applied for reinstatement to the NFL and had designs on rejoining the Packers if he's allowed back in the league this season.
Jolly was released from prison roughly six months into his six-year sentence for a drug conviction but received 10 years of "shock" probation by a judge.
Jolly, 29, is suspended indefinitely from the NFL. His contract with the Green Bay Packers was due to end after the 2011 season but the team still holds his rights.

--There are reasons head coach Andy Reid pushed for added depth at defensive end. That depth is about to get a stern test one week into training camp with right end Trent Cole injuring his shoulder Wednesday, two days after the team announced Pro Bowl left end Jason Babin would miss at least two weeks with a torn calf muscle.
Reid had already insinuated former first-round pick Brandon Graham was under extra scrutiny to have a good training camp showing. That became amplified further when Babin, who had 18 sacks and three forced fumbles last season, was injured.
There's now also a chance for rookie second-round pick Vinny Curry to get more meaningful reps. That's provided a lingering high ankle sprain doesn't become problematic, but Curry's strength has been evident in practices.
Cole was injured Monday, Reid announced Wednesday morning.
"Those guys now have an opportunity to get more reps," Reid said. "We always preach that every rep you get is an opportunity to show what you can do and be able to better yourself as a professional football player. When another man gets hurt it gives you an opportunity."
The Eagles don't yet know the severity of Cole's injury and couldn't offer a timetable for his return. Swelling increased Wednesday from what Cole had experienced the night before.
"He hurt his AC (shoulder) joint early in practice (Monday)," Reid said. "I don't even remember the play he hurt it on but it ended up hurting him at night. He got a hold of (head athletic trainer) Rick Burkholder and came back and got some treatment on it. It swelled up a little bit. We'll see how many days it is that he is out. I can't give you an actual time on it."
Reid also said starting tight end Brent Celek, sidelined with an MCL strain, was back running and "doing better" but still is unable to make sharp cuts at top speed.

--Texans left tackle Duane Brown left practice Wednesday with a lower leg injury.
"He got rolled up, kind of got hit on the outside of his leg," said coach Gary Kubiak. "It's part of football, unfortunately. We'll hold our breath. Hopefully, he's OK."
Brown walked off the field and applied ice to his ankle but was taken to the locker room on a cart and then for tests on what the team believes is an ankle injury. Rashad Butler, who was competing for the starting right tackle job in light of the offseason departure of Eric Winston, moved to left tackle after Brown's injury on Wednesday.
"In my opinion, Duane molded himself into the best left tackle in the game," quarterback Matt Schaub told the Houston Chronicle. "... I never have to worry about Duane because I know he's going to get the job done."
Brown gave up 2.5 sacks last season and is arguably the team's top blocker.
Butler started four games at left tackle in 2010, when Brown was suspended for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Brown was a first-round pick from Virginia Tech in 2008. He's in the final year of his original $9.1 million rookie contract.

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