NFL to experiment with extra official on field, tablets for instant replay

During the second week of the NFL preseason, the league will be testing out two new procedures related to its use of officials: The NFL will have an extra official on the field and officials will use Microsoft Surface Tablets for instant replay purposes.

For 13 games this week, the NFL will use eight-person crews instead of seven-person crews, which has been the standard size since 1978. According to a statement released by the NFL, the eighth official is being brought on in an attempt to reduce "the number of times an official is responsible for multiple areas of the field that may not be in proximity to each other."

For some of the selected games, the eighth official will be positioned in the offensive backfield, focusing on the center, and the guard and tackle closest to the official. This official will be known as "U2."

For the other slate of games, the eighth official will be 20 yards downfield, where the official will watch the interior of the offensive line, zeroing in on defensive holding penalties. This official will be known as "CJ."

"We are going to look at positioning the eighth official in a couple of different areas," said Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating. "We want to try to fill some of the holes that may happen in specific situations over the course of a game."

Here are the 13 games that will feature an expanded crew with the positioning of the eighth official indicated in parenthesis:

  • Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins (CJ)
  • Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (U2)
  • Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets (U2)
  • Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers (U2)
  • Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles (U2)
  • Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts (U2)
  • New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints (CJ)
  • Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (CJ)
  • Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings (U2)
  • San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (CJ)
  • Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (CJ)
  • St. Louis Rams at Tennessee Titans (U2)
  • Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (U2)

The NFL is experimenting with its use of officials this preseason. (USATSI)

As for the use of the tablets, the NFL will use Microsoft Surface Tablets for instant replay purposes during four games this week (10 total games through the first three weeks of the preseason) after previously experimenting with the tablets at this past year's Pro Bowl. The idea is to eliminate the time it takes for an official to use the sideline monitor, as tablets can be brought to the official on the field for a review.

Here are the four games this week that will feature the use of tablets:

  • Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets
  • Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants
  • Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers

"The goal of experimenting with the tablets is to be more efficient in administering replay reviews," Blandino said. "We would like to determine if we can streamline the process."

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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