From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says possibly using replacement referees for regular-season games is worthwhile to ensure long-term improvements to officiating.The league and the NFL Referees Association have yet to reach an agreement, and Goodell acknowledged Thursday that time was running out to make the regular officials available for the openers."We're anxious to get a deal done, but it has to get done that it's going to help us for the long term," Goodell said at a fantasy football event in Times Square. "It's not a short-term issue."Of the replacement refs who have been calling preseason games, Goodell said: "We think they'll do a very credible job."Officials probably need a week to 10 days to prepare for the season, Goodell said, and the first game is Sept. 5, 13 days away. The first full Sunday of games is Sept. 9.NFLRA lead negotiator Mike Arnold said Thursday that officials have been training on their own during the lockout and would need less than a week to prep."We're ready to go," he said.While the NFL and officials disagree on some financial matters, Goodell also characterized the differences as "philosophical." The NFL's proposal includes making some refs full-time -- currently all game officials work part-time with outside jobs -- and adding more crews.Arnold said that the union was open to discussing such issues but any proposal to increase the number of officials while decreasing the pay for current refs was not viable.Increasing the pool of officials would allow the league to replace individual officials or entire crews that are not performing well, Goodell said."Then it's based on performance, which is what fans all want, players all want, coaches all want," he said.The replacement officials have been closely scrutinized during the preseason, with any error quickly pointed out by media and fans."It's not our job to judge the replacements, because their performance speaks for itself," Arnold said.Goodell said he wasn't concerned that teams and fans would question the credibility of results if that inevitable first disputed call of the season takes place while replacement officials are on the field."We have controversial calls. Officiating is an imperfect science," he said. "They're not going to be correct all the time, but we have systems in place to try to help. We have instant replay, as an example, to try to help correct those mistakes. ... It's like any game. We get calls every Monday from fans, from coaches, from teams upset about a particular call. That happens. And it will happen going forward regardless of who's on the field."
Heading into the 2017-18 season, defense was a question mark for the Capitals. That question mark grew even bigger with Matt Niskanen on LTIR. Now, in the wake of an 8-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and with Niskanen out until at least early November, Barry Trotz knows the team needs to fix the blue line and they need to do it fast.
“We've got to be better,” Trotz told reporters after Tuesday’s morning skate. “But there’s areas of our game that we can be better. We can be better in our own zone. We can take care of business defensively. That’s got to be our security blanket. We had too many holes in our d-zone. It was like Swiss cheese.”
The team’s first response to Niskanen’s injury was to recall Madison Bowey, a player who impressed in training camp and who likely would have started the season on the team if not for a salary cap crunch and his waiver exempt status.
Bowey’s first game did not go well with the lasting memory being a highlight reel deke Jakub Voracek delivered to turn Bowey around before setting up another Philadelphia goal.
Trotz took ownership of Saturday’s game saying the team did not “insulate” Bowey very well in his NHL debut.
The problem is that it will difficult to insulate him or anyone on the Caps’ defense given how thin the blue line currently is. Washington’s defense currently features two rookies in Bowey and Christian Djoos and Bowey is only one of three right-handed shots. Plus, both Bowey and Djoos are likely better options than either Taylor Chorney or Aaron Ness so it will be tough to take either rookie out of the lineup.
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Given Washington’s salary cap constraints as they are right back up against the cap when Niskanen returns from injury and his salary is back on the books, it will be difficult for the Caps to make any sort of trade to bring in outside help. Many may point to goalie Philipp Grubauer as a trade chip, but his salary cap hit is only $1.5 million and you can subtract $650,000 from that as the team would have to recall Pheonix Copley to serve as backup. What kind of help can you really get with less than $1 million to play with?
If the team is going to turn things around and shore up its defense, it will mean improving from within.
Said Trotz, “We're in this for the long haul with our defense.”
John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…
WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN (coverage begins at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington)
Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 1500 AM
Three things to watch...
It all begins
The long, crazy, unprecedented NBA offseason is officially over. It's time to watch some Wizards basketball. This year Washington enters the season with the highest expectations they have had in a while. Coming off their best season since the 1970s, a year in which they won 49 games, their division and reached the second round of the playoffs, the goal is to go further. They want to win more than 50 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond.
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris are all coming off the best seasons of their careers and will hope to take another step. Marcin Gortat will look to continue being a double-double machine. Ian Mahinmi will hope for better health. Kelly Oubre, Jr. will seek a breakout season. And their new-look bench will try to improve on last year's group. The Wizards have the tools to be one of the best teams in the NBA, but they have to stay healthy and prove it now that the rest of the NBA knows what they are capable of.
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A different Wall?
Wall made All-NBA for the first time last season, but there are many reasons to believe the best is yet to come. Wall earned that honor despite sitting out much of last offseason following two knee surgeries. This summer he was healthy and benefitted because of it. He was able to focus on his conditioning like never before and reported in fantastic shape. Now he has his sights on the MVP award and first team All-Defense. We get to see the new version of him on Wednesday night.
Wall, of course, is still finding motivation in the littlest of things. He took issue this summer with ESPN not ranking him in the top 10 among NBA players. And on Tuesday he tweeted what seemed to be a gripe with ESPN not including him in their tweet welcoming back the NBA. Wall, again, appears to be on a mission and the rest of the league should watch out, perhaps especially if you're a rookie point guard getting a lot of hype. While we're on the subject...
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High profile NBA debuts
The Sixers will have two, not one, but two No. 1 overall picks making their NBA debuts on Wednesday night. It's not often you see that and it's a big reason why this one is slated for a national TV audience, that and because big things are expected of Joel Embiid. Markelle Fultz was the top selection in 2017 and will be playing his first game in his own backyard. He grew up in nearby Upper Marlboro, Md. and went to DeMatha Catholic. He won't start, but this is a huge night for him. He is playing his first game on ESPN at home and against Wall, one of the game's best point guards. No pressure, kid.
The other No. 1 pick is Ben Simmons, whom the Sixers took in the 2016 draft. He missed all of last year with a foot injury but is back and ready to remind us of why he went first overall. Simmons had a tremendous preseason and showed off his rare talents as a 6-foot-10 guy who can run the floor with anyone and pass like a point guard. He is going to make an impact in this league, but we don't know exactly what type of player he will be. Watching his debut should be fascinating.