On the same day the NFL distributed a memo informing teamsthat replacement referees will work games in Week 1, a source with knowledge ofthe locked-out officials thinking said the union remains strong.The sides have not had a formal bargaining session sincelate July, according to the source, and none are currently scheduled.Wednesdays memo is another one of their tactics to try andbreak the union, the source said. When a deal was not reached last week, thesource added, the NFL Referees Associations 120 members realized the league hadno intention of using them in the opening week of the regular season, which kicksoff next Wednesday when the Cowboys visit the Giants.Replacement referees, many of whom are from second-tiercollege conferences, have officiated the preseason occasionally withembarrassing results.One of the latest slipups came Wednesday night at FedExField. After a lengthy review to determine the correct spot of the ball, thereferee returned to the review monitor for a second time, saying over the P.A.system, Were going to look at it one more time to groans and boos from the spectators.In the Redskins preseason opener in Buffalo, there also werea number of miscues, including a botched touchback ruling on a punt.Theyve been put in an unfair position, the source said.They are not professional officials and it shows. It takes three or four yearsto get comfortable officiating the game at this level. The replacements havehad one preseason as on the job training.The NFLRAs members were locked out in early June when thesides reached a stalemate on salary, pension and other issues. Another stickingpoint was the NFLs desire to add three seven-member officiating crews to therotation.They want to add officials but not add any money to thepot," added the source, who also pointed out that officials are now being asked to do more, such as identifying potentially concussed players.Despite being locked out, the referees have continued towork out, review film and conduct a weekly conference call, led by veteranreferee Ed Hochuli, to discuss rules and other matters, the source said.But with six days remaining before the season opener in NewYork, theres no end to the lockout in sight.There could be a happy medium if the NFL comes to thetable, the source said. The league wants to divide the union and its notgoing to be divided.
The Redskins are going into the third and final day of the NFL draft looking for some more talent, more Scot McCloughan-type “football players” who will fit in with the culture that the GM is trying to build.
And while they should be able to find some players who will help them, both immediately and in the long term, they are unlikely to find many who will be able to start for them in 2016.
Let’s look at last year. There were 156 players selected on the final day of the 2015 draft. Of those, only nine started in at least half of their teams’ games. Far more third-day draft picks, 101 to be exact, didn’t start a single game.
The Redskins had two late-round players who started games last year. Safety and nickel back Kyshoen Jarrett started five games and slot receiver Jamison Crowder started six.
It’s not impossible to find a full-time starter on draft Saturday. In 2012 the Redskins drafted Alfred Morris in the sixth round. He started 16 games as a rookie and went on to start 72 straight games in four seasons.
And there is Kirk Cousins, a fourth-round pick the same year Morris came out, who started as a backup for two years and took advantage when he got his chance as the full-time starter last year.
But Morris and Cousins are very much exceptions. The Redskins are not banking on finding any starters, just players who will be good role players, reserves, and special teams contributors. If they find a Morris or a Cousins today it is a bonus.
Kendall Fuller could be held out until training camp later this summer as he recovers from a knee injury that cut short his junior season, Jay Gruden said.
The Redskins selected the Virginia Tech cornerback in the third round (84th overall) on Friday night.
“We feel good about his progression from his injury,” Gruden said at Redskins Park. “We think he’s going to miss rookie minicamp [next month], but there’s a chance he could be back for the OTAs [in late May]."
Gruden added: “Worst-case scenario, we think he’ll be back for training camp [in late July].”
Fuller suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee last preseason. He attempted to play through the injury for three games before opting for surgery. As it turned out, though, he injury required a season-ending microfracture procedure.
The operation was performed by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who is also a senior medical consultant to the Redskins.
Asked if the relationship with Andrews helped the team make its decision on Fuller, Gruden downplayed the connection.
“I think every team has that information on the kid, and we felt good about his recovery,” Gruden said. “We really do. We know he’s a hard worker. We know where he is in his rehab. We’ll get him down here and help him along the way. But he’s a hard worker and he’s going to get himself ready to go.”
Gruden added: “He was too talented of a player to pass up. He can play nickel, obviously, which is a big hope for him. He can play outside. He’s got great natural football instincts at the nickel or corner position. Obviously you got great bloodlines, and I think it’s a great pick."
After the Redskins signed Josh Norman, Scot McCloughan told everyone that he would not hesitate to draft another cornerback this week.
Nobody really believed him. But he made believers out of everybody in the third round tonight when he took Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller.
He immediately jumps into a cornerback depth chart that has gone from shaky to strong in the last week. Norman and Bashaud Breeland will be the starters. Fuller could come in for nickel situations. Chris Culliver is still on the mend from a knee injury he suffered last November and his status for training cap is very much up in the air. Second-year player Quinton Dunbar will work
Spinning it forward to 2017, Fuller should be able to fit in with Breeland and Norman to form a formidable starting group of cornerbacks.
Many had Fuller rated as a first-round talent before he suffered a knee injury last season. Even after that, some thought he might be talented enough to be worth a late second- or early third-round pick. Fuller is a solid value as a late third-round pick.