Is the NFL headed for replacement refs?

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Is the NFL headed for replacement refs?

From Comcast SportsNet
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- With no end in sight to the labor dispute between the NFL and its officials, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he is comfortable with the idea of using replacement officials in preseason games. Goodell said he doesn't think using officials with less experience will pose a safety risk to players. "That's why we've been training them for the last two months and why they're on the field now, is to make sure they're prepared, they understand the rules," Goodell said during a visit to Green Bay's training camp. Replacement officials were on the field during practice Wednesday and are expected to stay in Green Bay through Friday's "Family Night" scrimmage. The Hall of Fame Game between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints is Sunday. Members of the NFL Referees Association were locked out in June after talks broke down. "We are in discussions with them," Goodell said. "We've had discussions recently. Hopefully we'll have more discussions with them in the near future. But as you can see, we're preparing for the season and we will have officials on the field. We hope that the officials from last season will be on the field again this year but to date, we haven't been able to get an agreement that makes sense for both parties." Goodell said the main emphasis in negotiations from the league's perspective was to find ways to improve officiating. "We proposed an idea where we could have another 21 officials so we could help train them and have a deeper pool of officials and be able to potentially move them in and out," Goodell said. "And that's something that we're discussing with the officials. But the whole issue is, how do we continue to improve the officials?" The purpose for the proposed pool of additional officials hasn't been clearly defined, but it could become a way for the league to promote and demote officials based on their performance. Goodell said the league also has offered officials a pay raise as part of negotiations. "Of course, they're interested in compensation and benefits, we understand that," Goodell said. "We've made a proposal we think is fair, with an increase. It's five to 11 percent per official. We think we've been responsive on that, and hopefully we can get something done." Packers coach Mike McCarthy says he doesn't have any concerns about the use of replacement officials. "To me it's something that everybody has to deal with," McCarthy said. "(Supervisor of officials) Ed Coukart is here with the new officials, they worked practice today. We will spend some time tomorrow with the officials in our meetings as we have done annually. We're just moving forward. We're getting ready to play games and it's a business issue. As we know from the past, those things will get worked out, and we're just focused on our football team." Packers players generally seemed unaware of the ongoing labor dispute or the presence of replacement officials; the team usually has a group of local officials, generally with high school experience, present during practice. "I really don't pay much attention to those guys, other than the fact that I noticed none of them looked familiar," guard T.J. Lang said. "Talking about the refs, I don't really know what their situation is, so I can't really speak on that. But whoever they have in there, I'm sure they're going to get them coached up." Joked linebacker Desmond Bishop, "I had no idea about that. I was too focused on John Madden out there." The former Raiders coach and broadcasting icon also was at practice Wednesday. Goodell also was asked about recent comments from Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy, who said at last week's shareholders meeting that he couldn't support an 18-game regular season schedule because of health and safety concerns. "We haven't had any discussion about it," Goodell said. "Our view was, we were going to have to go through a full cycle of the offseason, training camp. We'll obviously be done with that shortly and then we'll get back to really analyzing it and trying to say, What are the positives and negatives about it?'" Goodell said he was not sure if the league has received an application for reinstatement from former Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, who is suspended indefinitely for violations of the league's substance abuse policy. And with three Packers players -- defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal, along with linebacker Erik Walden -- all facing league suspensions once the regular season starts, Goodell was asked whether he sees a trend developing from recent reports of player misconduct. "Fortunately, the vast majority of our players are terrific," Goodell said. "They do the right things on and off the field. And that's what we encourage. We have rules, we have policies, we want to make sure those are held to the highest standards, because we think our fans deserve it. And so If there's a violation or there's a trend, there's consequences for that."

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Nationals trade Danny Espinosa to Angels for two minor league pitchers

Nationals trade Danny Espinosa to Angels for two minor league pitchers

WASHINGTON -- The Los Angeles Angels have acquired shortstop Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals for two minor league pitchers.

The Angels sent right-handers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin to the Nationals on Saturday night for Espinosa, who presumably lost his starting job when Washington obtained outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

Washington traded three top pitching prospects to Chicago for Eaton, with the intention of shifting NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Trea Turner from center field back to his natural shortstop position.

The 29-year-old Espinosa hit .209 with a career-high 24 home runs and 72 RBIs as Washington's starting shortstop last season. In seven major league seasons he has batted .226 with 92 home runs and 285 RBIs.

McGowin was ranked as the Angels' 20th-best prospect.

MORE NATIONALS: Harper's 'Wow' tweet could mean a lot of things

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Kelly Oubre blossoms when Wizards need him most to beat Bucks

Kelly Oubre blossoms when Wizards need him most to beat Bucks

Eight games ago, Kelly Oubre had a fast track to coach Scott Brooks' doghouse. Or so it seemed during the Wizards' 112-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. 

Oubre was yanked after three minutes, missing his only shot and getting beaten backdoor by Pau Gasol for a layup. 

Fast forward to Saturday night when for the second game in a row Oubre was on the court at the end of a close game and finishing a win for the Wizards, scoring a career-high 19 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals.

"I thought Kelly was outstanding on both sides of the ball. The game basically tells you what to do," Brooks said after a 110-105 come-from-behind win in which Oubre had a steal in a dunk for a three-point lead with 2:43 left. "The defense that he has played, it rewards him. He had a lot of good looks because of the defense that he played. It gives you energy. He rebounded the ball in that first half well. We needed those rebounds. When he rebounds and defends, the scoring is going to come. He's on a nice run right now."

Oubre was 3-for-3 shooting for seven points in the fourth quarter of a game they trailed 98-92 with 5:21 left. Then he hit a three-pointer. But just as importantly, the Wizards (9-13) put together six consecutive stops on the defensive end with Oubre playing at small forward next to Otto Porter as the "stretch" power forward. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a matchup nightmare for Porter, but Oubre entered to help shoulder the responsibility of guarding him and proved disruptive of the 6-10 combo guard/forward. 

"That was my prerogative tonight to take that matchup with Giannis pretty seriously," Oubre said.

Antetokounmpo had a game-high seven turnovers. The Wizards doubled him more late to kill the offensive flow for Milwaukee. He was the only starter among their five to score in the final 12 minutes. 

Oubre finished 7-for-11 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three-point range. When he's on the floor with the starters, he's going to get spot-up looks because of heavy attention paid to John Wall and Bradley Beal. But Oubre also has had better decision-making. Earlier in the season, he'd try to run all the way to the rim and go over bigs to finish with little results. Now he's stopping a dribble short for the pocket jumper. He had a 12-foot pull-up to cut the deficit to 92-88.

"I've worked with a lot of young players in the past. It happens that way," Brooks said. "You don't see much for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month and all of a sudden there's a jump. We're experiencing that jump I would say the last six or seven games. He's had some really quality minutes."

Oubre had eight points, five rebounds and two steals as the Wizards locked down the Denver Nuggets to pull out that win late Wednesday. He also finished the game on the floor with Markieff Morris on the bench so Brooks can use Porter as a better option to spread the floor.

Oubre had his first (and still only) double-double after that disappointment vs. the Spurs in the next game, a win over the Sacramento Kings, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He had 12 points and six rebounds in a close loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He had 10 points and five rebounds in a comeback win at the Brooklyn Nets. 

The second unit has struggled for most of the season, but it has prospered in conjunction with Oubre. Trey Burke (five points, two assists) has showed signs of life as the backup point guard in the first half and Jason Smith (four points) dropped in to consecutive buckets on his only shots early in the fourth quarter to keep the score even.

Oubre's three made three-point shots set a career-high as well.

"Wow, I didn't even know that," Oubre said when told of his mark. "Going for four next game."

That's Monday at the Miami Heat. 

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' impressive win over Bucks]