EAGAN, Minn. — A group of NFL officials scheduled to work Sunday's game between the Vikings and Seahawks visited Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Thursday to work the Vikings practice and give a presentation to media members on rule changes for 2019.
One full week of preseason games provided a limited sample size for the change that's garnered the most attention, an offseason decision to allow replay reviews for offensive and defensive pass interference or no calls on such plays.
The group of officials, led by referee Jerome Boger, are hoping that they will get more such plays the rest of the preseason so they can be used as teaching devices for officials, players and coaches.
There were two instances of defensive pass interference being added after reviews:
In New York, where the Giants hosted the Jets in the same facility used by both clubs, a play that was initially ruled an incompletion was challenged by the Jets and changed to a 33-yard defensive pass interference penalty against the Giants.
In Cincinnati, a pass breakup by Tony Lippett that was intercepted by Brandon Wilson was reviewed by the replay official because it involved change of possession.
"We had a pass down the sideline, and this was a pass that the defender is right behind the receiver, is coming over his shoulder, so he's beat and rakes him," an official explained. "He tries to time it with the receiver looking at the pass and is just a little ahead. Full speed, real time, it would be hard to say.
"All of this happens within a split second. They ruled an interception by the defense. It was challenged and went to review," he continued. "In slow motion, you could see that the defender's arm hit the receiver's arm, taking one down so he only had one hand and tipped the ball. It was reversed, becoming a 30-yard penalty on the defense instead of an interception."
No flags involving offensive or defensive pass interference were picked up last week.
Another point of emphasis, which Head Coach Mike Zimmer has stressed to the team is the prohibition of blindside blocks, making it against the rules for a player to initiate a block when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line by using forcible contact with his helmet, forearm or shoulder to an opponent.
"It used to be as long as you weren't up high in the head/neck area or low, it was fine, but this year, they've changed it," Boger said. "Even if you're going parallel to your line of scrimmage or back toward your own end line, any forcible contact is going to be a foul."
Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell picked up a 15-yard penalty for a blindside block last week in New Orleans.
Players are still allowed to block with their hands or use their bodies similar to a basketball player setting a screen.
The change, like many that have been introduced in recent years, is designed make the game safer.
"Safety is driving a lot of the rule changes that are being implemented," Boger said. "A lot of attributes that they're talking about, in our training, we are zeroing-in with an awareness of those activities."
Quote of the Day
"I don't get too much into that in the preseason. I really just stay focused on the work. Obviously, there were a lot of good things — we moved the ball and young kids made plays, that's what you're looking for … who can help you. But really, I try to stay focused on the work … the month's work of training camp … and it's been really good to go against a great defense every day. Our judgement offensively is real, if that makes sense, because we get to see where we stand because of the people we work against. So far, so good but we've got a long way to go."
— Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak when asked about the first-team offense scoring on its only possession against the Saints
Thursday marked the next-to-last day of practices that are open to fans for 2019. Fans have enjoyed photo opportunities and activities in addition to seeing the team prepare for the season.
Here are three posts by fans: