The NFL will open the regular season next week with replacement officials and said it was prepared to use them ‘‘as much . . . as necessary’’ afterward.
Replacements will be on the field beginning Wednesday night when the Cowboys visit the Giants in New Jersey in the season opener, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams in a memo. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials’ union.
The NFL Referees Association was locked out in early June and talks on a new collective bargaining agreement have gone nowhere. Replacements have been used throughout the preseason, with mixed results.
In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a contract was finalized. The speed of the game and the amount of time starters are on the field increase exponentially for real games, making the replacements’ task more challenging.
Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told the clubs in a memo Wednesday that the replacements will work ‘‘as much of the regular season as necessary,’’ adding that training with each crew will continue.
The NFL noted it has expanded the use of instant replay as an officiating tool this year to include all scoring plays and turnovers. Officiating supervisors will be on hand to assist the crews on game administration issues.
‘‘We are not surprised, based on Ray Anderson’s statements . . . that the NFL was not going to reach out to us,’’ NFLRA spokesman Michael Arnold said. ‘‘However, this is consistent with the NFL’s negotiating strategy, which has been ‘take it or leave it and lock them out.’ It now appears the NFL is willing to forego any attempt to reach a deal in the last seven days before opening night.’’
Anderson said the sides remain considerably apart on economic issues, including salary and retirement benefits. He also told the teams there is a substantial difference on operational issues.
Leading by example
It wasn’t quite group therapy or singing ‘‘Kumbaya’’ around a campfire.
But Rex Ryan is hoping to build a better bunch of locker-room leaders.
The Jets coach excused 19 veteran players, including Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Darrelle Revis, and Santonio Holmes, from practice Wednesday so they could attend what he called a ‘‘leadership training’’ seminar.
Ryan got the idea after he and his coaching staff attended a similar session in June. He surprised the players Wednesday morning with the group outing, which ran from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. — so they could skip practice.
‘‘We just had such a great experience as a coaching staff, and I’m hoping the players have the same kind of experience we had,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘It was great. It was something I felt all of us gained some things out of. You saw a lot about each other. I thought it was good.’’
Most of the starters will not play in the team’s exhibition finale in Philadelphia Thursday night, so Ryan scheduled the session for Wednesday.
Cowboys rout Dolphins
Orie Lemon returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown as the Cowboys finished their preseason with a 30-13 victory over the visiting Dolphins . . . Billy Cundiff made three of four field goal attempts, making him the only first-stringer to do anything noteworthy in the Redskins’ 30-3 victory over the visiting Buccaneers . . . Panthers coach Ron Rivera expects five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith to return to practice Sunday and play in the Sept. 9 season opener against the Buccaneers. Rivera said Smith is ‘‘improving’’ after developing a foot infection earlier in the week . . . The 49ers signed defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo to a two-year contract and waived center Chase Beeler . . . The Raiders have claimed defensive back Coye Francies on waivers from the Seahawks and waived defensive back Conroy Black . . . The Bengals signed center Jeff Faine to replace the injured Kyle Cook, who will miss considerable time — and possibly the season — because of a right foot injury . . . The Bears placed linebacker Dom DeCicco on the waived/injured list and signed receiver Terriun Crump.