The NFL has made its referee assignment for the Week 1 showdown between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, and Pats fans probably will recognize him.
Clete Blakeman and his crew will officiate Sunday night's game at Gillette Stadium. It's his first assignment involving the Patriots since last season's AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Blakeman has a long history of working memorable Patriots games this decade. Here's a list of the notable matchups, via The Boston Globe's Ben Volin.
Blakeman became a referee in 2010, and the Patriots are 4-5 (including a 2-0 playoff record) in games he's officiated over that span.
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While the investigation into the New England Patriots' illicit videotaping of the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline last weekend is ongoing, The Washington Post's Mark Maske is reporting that the punishment could be aligned in severity with similiar game-day violations committed by other NFL teams in recent years.
That means fines in the range of six figures and/or a reduced round value on a draft pick — or worse still, the loss of one altogether:
"The NFL is likely to penalize the New England Patriots for their admitted violation of league video policy last weekend and is contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
That could mean a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss or reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower-level pick."
Looking for something similar to what the Patriots were levied for Spygate? Maske points out that punishment was clearly an exception, not a guardrail:
The Patriots have admitted wrongdoing in last Sunday's incident in Cleveland, in which a credentialed Patriots video crew member was caught filming the Bengals' sideline during their game against the Browns. New England has said the camera crew was there to feature a scout as part of their "Do Your Job" video series.
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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and center Ted Karras, who were each listed as questionable with injuries, made the trip to Cincinnati with the team Saturday but backup defensive tackle Byron Cowart was downgraded to out with a concussion, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Edelman, the team's leading receiver, has been battling shoulder and ankle injuries. Karras, the starting center, missed the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday with a knee injury. Both were limited in practice this week.
The Patriots (10-3), coming off back-to-back losses to the Houston Texans and Chiefs, play the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.