Rams Look Forward to Officials' Return

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Reports surfaced Wednesday morning and into the afternoon that a tentative agreement between the NFL and the NFL Referee’s Association had been struck.

In the hours after those reports, there were a number of reports saying that nothing had been agreed to and that the two sides were still in negotiations.

The good news was that the sides were negotiating and the bad news was, well, the sides were negotiating.

Meanwhile at ContinuityX Training Center, Rams coach Jeff Fisher wasn’t too worried about much aside from getting ready to play Seattle, not that he wouldn’t like to hear some good news on the impasse between the officials and the league.

“I don’t know,” Fisher said. “We’re preparing against the Seahawks. If that thing works itself out, it works itself out. We’re all very hopeful that they’ll be able to get it resolved. When they’re officially back, then I’m sure we’ll be notified.”

Based on the reports of late Wednesday afternoon, a deal appeared to be extremely close. And for the players who play, the fans who watch and really everyone involved with the league, a deal wouldn’t be coming a moment too soon.

“You guys have seen it – we need them back,” Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I hope it happens soon. I just don’t think it’s fair to the fans, I don’t think it’s fair to us as players to go out there and have to deal with that week in and week out. I really hope that they’re as close as they say they are.”

Defensive end Chris Long echoed Bradford’s sentiments but also wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t hold anything against the replacement officials, who are simply trying to officiate games played at a much higher speed than what they’re used to.

Following the fallout of the Monday night game in which Seattle escaped with a win against Green Bay on a disputed last-second touchdown call, the need to get a deal done seemed to reach a critical mass.

It’s no surprise that the sides went to work this week after a void in negotiations.

“They are doing the best they can,” Long said. “It’s not really on the replacement refs. You just hope that the NFL is doing everything they can to get the real guys back because that’s what we’re about, right? Protecting the shield? That’s what I heard at the rookie symposium so right now we are putting a price on the integrity of the game. It’s just tough to watch.”

While Long didn’t mince words, he also made it clear that he just wants the game to be played, coached and officiated at the highest level across the board.

“I’m proud of the shield, too,” Long said. “I just hope we continue to see football games being played at a high level.”

WILD FINISH: Speaking of the wild finish in Seattle from Monday night, there were a few interesting takes from the Rams locker room on Wednesday afternoon.

On the game’s final play, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson appeared to have his last ditch pass intercepted by Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings but Seattle receiver Golden Tate got his hands on the ball. Conflicting calls were made before a touchdown was called on the field.

After a review, the play stood as a touchdown and the Seahawks left with a win.

“I think everyone in the country, except for people who live in Seattle, saw it as an interception,” Bradford said.

When informed that a poll in a Seattle newspaper only had about 17 percent of fans in Seattle saying that it was a catch, Bradford was surprised.

“Really? They’re honest up there, then,” Bradford said. “That’s good to know. Everyone saw it. We don’t need to get into that. It’s unfortunate that that could affect not only those two teams, but a lot of other teams towards the end of the year when the playoffs start to come into the picture.”

Long saw it from a different viewpoint, choosing not to offer an opinion on the game’s outcome but making note that this week’s opponent played well.

“The Seahawks played a hell of a game, that’s the first thing I’ll say,” Long said. “To go toe to toe with the Packers and possibly beat them, I don’t know, you could probably make that call either way but I do think it was utter chaos. It’s just been crazy. I hope those real guys come back soon.”

Fisher also declined comment on the game itself but offered his take on it purely from a head coach’s standpoint.

“My only comment on that is that I thought that (Packers Head) Coach Mike McCarthy did an extraordinary job dealing with a difficult set of circumstances,” Fisher said.

YOUNG G.Z.: By now, it seems there’s nothing rookie Greg Zuerlein can do to surprise those that have watched the cannon-legged kicker since he arrived in St. Louis.

After booting two more field goals last week – including a 56-yarder – Zuerlein has now converted all eight of his field goal tries and his four extra point attempts.
“Well, it just gives you confidence that the odds are that it’s going to go through the uprights,” Fisher said. “He’s got length. So, especially before a half, you can take some shots and do some things.”

Fisher has been around some powerful kickers before but never anything like Zuerlein.
“(Titans K Rob) Bironas has got a very strong leg,” Fisher said. “But I’ve not seen anybody like Greg.”

INJURY REPORT: All signs point to a return this week for defensive tackle Michael Brockers after he went through his first practice in almost a month Wednesday afternoon.

Brockers was officially listed as limited in his return from a high ankle sprain but barring a setback he’ll likely be ready to play.

Elsewhere, offensive tackle Wayne Hunter was also limited after twisting his knee against the Bears. He played through the injury and will likely be able to play this week again.

Running back Steven Jackson (groin) did not participate and will likely go through a similar process as last week in determining his role for Sunday.

Defensive end Eugene Sims left practice with the flu and also did not participate. Joining Jackson and Sims on the did not participate list were tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee) and safety Matt Daniels (hamstring).