The NFL is experimenting with several different elements in the second preseason weekend.
First, the officiating department will assign an eighth official to most games this week, appearing in two support capacities for the umpire. One is the center judge position that is currently used in some college conferences. This position was introduced in 2013 by NFL referee Walt Anderson, who is the football officiating coordinator for the Big 12 Conference. The other position being trialed is a second umpire.
“We are going to look at positioning the eighth official in a couple of different areas,” vice-president of officiating Dean Blandino said. “We want to try to fill some of the holes that may happen in specific situations over the course of a game.”
Basically, both positions will support the umpire with an additional set of eyes on the interior line play. The center judge will be stationed 20 yards downfield; the second umpire will be in the offensive backfield. The basic mechanics have the center judge focusing on the center and guards and the second umpire keying on the center pre-snap, then the nearest guard and tackle. The umpire would then key the remaining interior linemen.
In addition, college officials that are on the league’s development squad are getting some practical game experience this week. In some cases they will officiate a full game, and in others it will be a half game, as has been the practice in previous seasons.
There will be three officials that will have a tryout at the referee position: Barry Anderson, Alex Kemp, and Fred Bryan. It is not clear if they will officiate an entire game or a half game.
Also this week, the league is expanding the use of replay reviews through the use of tablet computers on the sideline.
All times listed below are Eastern. Live games on NFL Network will be telecast on local stations only in both teams’ markets. Development officials are listed in italics. The center judge officials (“CJ”), second umpires (“U2“), referee tryouts (“R”), and tablet replays are also indicated.
Thursday, Aug. 20
- Lions at Washington, 7:30 p.m./tape delay midnight NFLN — Carl Cheffers (BJ Larry Neal, CJ Terrence Miles)
- Bills at Browns, 8 p.m. ESPN — Clete Blakeman (U Mike Morton, U2 Jeff Rice)
Friday, Aug. 21
- Seahawks at Chiefs, 8 p.m. NFLN — Jeff Triplette (R Alex Kemp, SJ Mike Carr, no 8th official)
- Falcons at Jets, 8 p.m./tape delay midnight NFLN — Pete Morelli (U Kevin Mar, U2 Ruben Fowler, tablet replays)
Saturday, Aug. 22
- Dolphins at Panthers, 7 p.m. — Tony Corrente (U Mike Moten, FJ Ryan Dickson, U2 Dan Ferrell)
- Ravens at Eagles, 7 p.m. NFLN — Jerome Boger (U Steve Woods, HL Maia Chaka, U2 Rich Hall)
- Bears at Colts, 7:30 p.m. — Terry McAulay (U Marlow Fitzgerald, U2 Bryan Neale)
- Patriots at Saints, 7:30 p.m. — Gene Steratore (R Barry Anderson, SJ Matt Edwards, CJ Tom Hill)
- Jaguars at Giants, 7:30 p.m. — Brad Allen (R Fred Bryan, HL Jerod Phillips, no 8th official, tablet replays)
- Broncos at Texans, 8 p.m. — Craig Wrolstad (FJ Lyndon Nixon, CJ Steve Zimmer)
- Raiders at Vikings, 8 p.m./tape delay 1 a.m. NFLN — Ed Hochuli (U2 Chris Snead)
- Chargers at Cardinals, 10 p.m. NFLN — Walt Coleman (U Ramon George, FJ Lark Jones, CJ Boris Cheek)
Sunday, Aug. 23
- Packers at Steelers, 1 p.m. NFLN — John Hussey (LJ Quentin Givens, no 8th official, tablet replays)
- Cowboys at 49ers, 8 p.m./tape delay midnight NFLN — John Parry (LJ Cat Conti, SJ Mearl Robinson, CJ Greg Gautreaux, tablet replays)
- Rams at Titans, 8 p.m. Fox — Walt Anderson (U2 Alan Eck)
Monday, Aug. 24
- Bengals at Buccaneers, 8 p.m. ESPN — Ron Torbert (U2 Brad Rogers)