The Oakland Raiders involving NFL officials in training camp is nothing new but this season that participation has greater significance.
Normally getting 1,000 yards is a good thing. Well, unless the feat involves penalties. The Raiders fell into that category because in some games there were more flags than the United Nations.
Oakland committed 129 infractions last season for 1,094 yards. It took Tuesday's crew just one play to throw the yellow linen but Raiders head coach Bill Callahan seemed pleased those infractions were at a minimum.
"We structured the entire practice predicated on them being here," Callahan said. "It's good to get their presence out here and let the players feel it. It's good to get educated regarding how we're playing. I was really pleased that we didn't have a lot of infractions. It wasn't sloppy by any means."
The fact that the Raiders reached the Super Bowl in spite of being tagged for so many penalties speaks volumes but they may not be as fortunate if they continue that trend.
"We've got to be a smarter football team," Callahan said. "That goes with things like assignment football and also in terms of penalty play. We spoke to that issue several times last season but that will be a real emphasis in training camp."
Between the morning and afternoon practices, referee Tony Corrente announced five rule changes and a list of things officiating crews will watch with more of a keen eye.
The rule changes go as follows: 1) If there is a defensive penalty in the last 40 seconds of a half, the defensive team can use a timeout, 2) If there is an offensive penalty in the final minute of a half, the offensive team can use a timeout as opposed to having a 10-second run-off, 3) If there is an injury in the last two minutes of a half, the team will not be assessed a timeout as long as it does not involve a change of possession, 4) If a member of the kicking team is pushed out of bounds, he can touch the ball as long as the ball has been previously touched by the kicking or receiving team, 5) In the last five minutes of the game, onside kicks cannot be repeated unless there are offsetting penalties.
As for things officials will eye more closely: 1) Defensive holding, 2) Offensive tackle positioning, 3) Roughing the quarterback, 4) Late hits, 5) Leg whipping, 6) Taunting, 7) Gestures that depict violent acts, and 8) Pregame posturing.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org