Will Return of Refs Spark Offense?

That's the hope as the Packers' up-tempo offense got bogged down too often with the replacement officials. That and more from the Thursday before a big game against New Orleans.

The "real" officials are back. Maybe their presence will help the Green Bay Packers' offense get back in gear.

Just like the owner of a sports car prefers cruising down the interstate at 70 mph, the Packers prefer to play up tempo on offense. With the replacement officials' constant huddling and sometimes-slow spotting of the ball, playing offense was like driving in stop-and-go traffic.

"The tempo of the game was obvious to everybody," coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday. "The games were longer. I think that's well documented. The mechanics, the whole operation was slower."

McCarthy simply said "no" when asked if the offense's performance was impacted by the officials, though perhaps he was looking to eliminate an excuse for an offense that is scoring 16 points per game less than last season.

"I think the biggest thing has been the speed and tempo of the game with those guys being out," guard Josh Sitton said. "It's been difficult to get a rhythm of the game, always having to huddle up extra, not spotting the ball as quick as they should, things like that."

Added fellow guard T.J. Lang: "We're a team that likes to speed it up on offense as much as we can, try to get as many plays as possible. With the refs coming back, that will definitely help with the tempo of the game, getting the game moving. That's something we're looking forward to."

Packers injury report

Did not participate: S Sean Richardson (hamstring). Limited: RT Bryan Bulaga (knee); CB Davon House (shoulder); WR Greg Jennings (groin); DE Jerel Worthy (shoulder). Full: TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder); LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle); RB James Starks (toe).

The only change was Lattimore, who went from limited to full after missing the Seattle game.

Saints injury report

Did not participate: LB Jonathan Casillas (neck); LB David Hawthorne (hamstring); DE Turk McBride (ankle).

The Saints' report is unchanged.

Four-point stance

— Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking during a conference call about the eight-year deal struck with officials: "Anytime you have these controversies, they stay with us. We have them in the history of the NFL. There are a lot of calls that are looked back in history. That's part of sports. That's part of the NFL. You would again like to try to avoid those and you try to do everything you can to avoid them but they're going to happen. And they'll happen in the future. It's something that I know, the great Packers fans, as frustrated and disappointed as they are in the outcome, they also understand that that's happened over decades and unfortunately it will happen going into the future."

— Why didn't Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy make a public statement after the team was robbed in Seattle? "I decided not until this point to speak publicly really out of respect for and concern for the sensitivity of the bargaining process. I didn't want to influence that in any way. I have over the last couple of days talked to several people in the league office, including Roger (Goodell). I expressed our views. But first and foremost for the long-term good of the game, we wanted to make sure we got a deal done."

— Side judge Lance Easley, who made the touchdown call that was upheld by replay and robbed Green Bay of a victory, says he did nothing wrong and made the "correct call," he told TMZ.

— The Packers Women's Association is holding its 26th annual food drive for Paul's Pantry before Sunday's game. This year's effort is headed by co-chairwomen Laura Hawk, wife of linebacker A.J. Hawk, and Ericka Whitt, wife of cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt. Before kickoff, PWA members and volunteers from UnitedHealthcare will collect nonperishable food items and cash donations in the stadium parking lot and at the gates. Each PWA member will be wearing the jersey of her husband or significant other, or a PWA jersey. Food items can be placed in bins located throughout the Lambeau Field parking lot.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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