|The replacement officials might not be long for the NFL, but they'll be on the field for Thursday's Browns-Ravens game. (AP)|
While a tentative deal between the league and the full-time officials might be close, nothing's definitive. Which means when the Browns and Ravens take the field on Thursday night, the replacement officials will be there just like they've been the first three weeks of the regular season.
Sources told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman on Wednesday that the two sides could have something permanent in place by the end of the week. But as NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith tweeted Wednesday afternoon, nothing's official until, well, it's official.
Having done this before, everyone needs to wait until the ink is dry.— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 26, 2012
Meanwhile, a league source told CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora that neither the Browns nor the Ravens have been notified of any changes -- or pending changes -- to the officials assigned to work Thursday night's game.
The last communication the two teams received from the league came late Wednesday afternoon and included the previous assignment of replacement officials. Both organizations are operating as if that won't change unless instructed otherwise.
Realistically, there was no chance the full-time officials would return by Thursday night, and, even if the two sides come to terms by the end of the week, seeing them on the field this weekend remains a longshot.
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