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From Harvard to Super Bowl: Ron Torbert to referee Sunday’s game

Referee Ron Torbert (left) will be in charge Sunday when the Bengals take on the Rams in Super Bowl LVI.Steve Luciano/Associated Press

Ron Torbert, a 12-year veteran NFL official who has been a referee since 2014, will handle his first Super Bowl on Sunday.

Torbert, 58, a Harvard Law School graduate and former lawyer, will be the third Black referee for a Super Bowl. Mike Carey did the game in 2008 and Jerome Boger in 2013. Torbert was a back judge and side judge for four seasons before being elevated to referee.

Assignments for the postseason are given through a league grading system used throughout the regular season.

“I’ve been preparing for this moment for more than 30 years,” he said. “I didn’t always know that’s what I was doing, but every game I worked, every clinic, every training camp and practice that I’ve been a part of, every moment at the gym, every training and scouting video that I’ve ever watched, has helped me get ready for this game.”

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Joining Torbert will be umpire Bryan Neale, down judge Derick Bowers, line judge Carl Johnson, field judge Rick Patterson, side judge Keith Washington, back judge Scott Helverson, replay official Roddy Ames, and replay assistant Sean McKee.

Pair placed on injured reserve

Rams offensive tackle Joe Noteboom and tight end Tyler Higbee were placed on injured reserve on Friday.

The move was expected for Higbee, who hasn’t practiced since being injured in the NFC title game. Noteboom practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday, but was a non-participant on Friday.

There were no setbacks for running back Darrell Henderson and defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day. Rams coach Sean McVay said both will be activated from IR.

“They’ll be ready to go,” the coach added.

Friday’s work was conducted under balmy, 82-degree conditions. The wind that was problematic earlier in the week, forcing McVay to move practice to the Rose Bowl on Thursday, was not a factor and barely noticeable.

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The Bengals ended their final practice with red-zone work.

For the majority of their final workout Friday at Drake Stadium on the campus of UCLA, the Bengals stayed inside the 20-yard line as Joe Burrow threw passes to his receivers and his tight ends. Then they tacked on some special teams work before finishing with a huddle at midfield.

“Just trying to follow our routine the best we can in the season,” coach Zac Taylor said. “That’s the routine our guys know. We finish with red zone and then we have about 50 hours until kickoff, and it’s mental from here.”

Part of Taylor’s confidence also related to the team’s health. Tight end C.J. Uzomah practiced for the second consecutive day and is on track to play Sunday, Taylor said. Everyone else on the roster is good to go.

Giants add female to coaching staff, names coordinators

Giants coach Brian Daboll filled out a majority of his staff Friday, hiring the first woman to hold a coaching position in the team’s history along with a pair of coordinators new to New York.

Among those announced to join the recently hired Daboll was Laura Young, who will be the team’s director of coaching operations, coordinating and organizing practices, as well as game-day operations. She has 18 years of NFL experience, the last four with Daboll in Buffalo, where she was the Bills’ player services coordinator.

Mike Kafka will be the new offensive coordinator and Don “Wink” Martindale will run the defense. Thomas McGaughey is back for a fifth straight season as special teams coordinator.

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In addition to Young, two other members of the Bills will follow Daboll to the Meadowlands — offensive line coach Bobby Johnson and quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney.

Daboll also named DeAndre Smith as the running backs coach, while Mike Groh will guide the wide receivers, Andy Bischoff will oversee tight ends, and Tony Sparano Jr. is the assistant offensive line coach. Andre Patterson is the new defensive line coach.

Daboll retained four assistant coaches from the staff of fired coach Joe Judge. Jerome Henderson is returning as the defensive backs coach and again will be assisted by Mike Treier.

Seahawks add coaches

The Seattle Seahawks are continuing the overhaul of their coaching staff with the expected hiring of Sean Desai and Karl Scott as key defensive assistants, and a parting with veteran offensive line coach Mike Solari, according to a person with knowledge of the moves.

The person spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the moves. NFL Network said Desai will be Seattle’s associated head coach.

Both Desai and Scott are expected to have significant influence in a remake on the defensive side for Seattle. The Seahawks let go of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis after the season. Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt will reportedly be elevated to take over as defensive coordinator.

Seattle announced Solari’s departure on Friday.

Desai spent the past nine seasons working for the Chicago Bears and was their defensive coordinator last season. Chicago ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense and under Desai, including a massive rebound season from Robert Quinn, who had 18½ sacks for the Bears. Desai, 38, previously was a quality control coach and safeties coach during his time in Chicago.

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Scott, 36, was the defensive backs coach for Minnesota last season, his first in the NFL. Most of Scott’s coaching experience has been in college serving as the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 2018-20. Before his stint at Alabama, Scott spent time at Louisiana Tech and Texas Tech.

Eberflus brings in three more aides

New Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus finalized his staff by hiring three more assistants Friday.

The Bears added former NFL linebacker Carlos Polk as assistant special teams coach, assistant defensive line coach Justin Hinds and coaching assistant Kevin Koch.

Polk had a similar job with Jacksonville this past season. He has 11 years of NFL coaching experience and 12 overall. A linebacker, Polk played seven seasons for San Diego (2001-07) and Dallas (2008) after starring at Nebraska.

Hinds was defensive coordinator at Western Carolina in 2021 after spending the previous two years as Central Michigan’s defensive line coach.

Koch spent the past five seasons on Pat Fitzgerald’s staff at Northwestern as a defensive graduate assistant and then a defensive quality control analyst. A product of suburban Elmhurst, Illinois, he played quarterback at College of DuPage and at Minnesota State Moorhead.