NFL officiating chief Carl Johnson will head back to the field next year as the league’s first full-time game official.
Johnson, who has been the league’s vice president of officiating since 2010, was a line judge for nine seasons before heading into the NFL offices.
Under the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Referees Association reached in September, the league is allowed to hire some officials on a full-time basis.
“Carl Johnson’s experience on the field and in New York made him uniquely qualified to help implement the new program of a limited number of full-time game officials,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said Wednesday. “We are confident Carl will do an outstanding job.”
Johnson has worked eight postseason games, including the 2008 Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots.
In his new role, in addition to being an on-field official, Johnson and other full-time officials will focus on training and development, scouting potential new officials, facilitating communication with game officials, and assisting the competition committee.
A search for the next head of the officiating department will begin in the near future.
Shorts back at practice
Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts III is back at practice and symptom-free following his first concussion.
Shorts, a former standout at Mount Union who has 43 receptions for 824 yards and seven touchdowns this season, missed last week’s game against the New York Jets because of lingering symptoms. Shorts says he was “out for about 5 seconds” after getting hit at Buffalo the previous week.
He recovered by sitting in a dark room and watched the game at home to avoid loud noises.
He practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, but coach Mike Mularkey believes Shorts will play Sunday at Miami.
Shorts spoke to teammate Laurent Robinson, who is on injured reserve following his fourth concussion, and said he told him to not rush back.
Shorts says “the biggest thing is resting the brain.”
Bryant sees doctor
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant went to see another doctor Wednesday to help determine if he can play the rest of this season with a broken finger on his left hand.
Coach Jason Garrett said the team was trying to get as much medical information as possible to make a decision for “the best way to handle it for now and the future.”
Bryant broke his left index finger in Sunday’s 20-19 win at Cincinnati, though he returned to the game after the injury and caught a touchdown pass. He has TD catches in each of the last five games.
Around the league
Quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy were ruled out for the Philadelphia Eagles’ game against Cincinnati tonight. Vick will miss his fifth consecutive game and McCoy his fourth because of concussions. … Charles Woodson won’t be back for the Green Bay Packers’ big game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that doctors decided it was better to give the perennial Pro Bowler’s collarbone another week to heal. … The New England Patriots re-signed Deion Branch for their battered corps of wide receivers. They signed him for the second time this season after Donte’ Stallworth joined former Kent State standout Julian Edelman on injured reserve. … Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice has a bruised foot, is in a walking boot and could be in question for Sunday’s game against Buffalo in Toronto. … The San Diego Chargers placed defensive end Vaughn Martin and safety Darrell Stuckey on season-ending injured reserve. To take their roster spots, the team re-signed running back Curtis Brinkley and added linebacker Gary Guyton. … The Arizona Cardinals have given up hope that Kevin Kolb will return this season, placing the only quarterback who had success with the team this season on injured reserve and naming rookie Ryan Lindley as starter for Sunday’s game against Detroit. … Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain returned to practice Wednesday after serving a two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. … The Detroit Lions put defensive tackle Corey Williams on injured reserve, ending his season because of an injured right knee. Detroit signed defensive tackle Andre Fluellen. … Josh Brent was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list by the Dallas Cowboys, a move that ends his season but allows the defensive tackle to remain with the team. Brent is facing charges related to a fatal accident Saturday morning. … Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he’s been fined $5,250 by the NFL for wearing a message on his uniform promoting Ray Guy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Vilma files motion
Jonathan Vilma has asked a federal judge in New Orleans to allow him to move forward with his defamation case against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. In a motion filed Wednesday, Vilma drops his case against the NFL’s disciplinary process, now that his suspension has been lifted. However, he continues to pursue damages from Goodell for harm he alleges was done to his reputation by the NFL’s bounty probe of the New Orleans Saints.
Miami honors former stars
Quarterbacks Earl Morrall and Don Strock are among six former players to be inducted into the Miami Dolphins’ Walk of Fame. Also to be honored before Sunday’s game against Jacksonville are ex-receiver Nat Moore and former defensive linemen Manny Fernandez, A.J. Duhe and Tim Bowens.
Lockhart to be locked up
Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Eugene Lockhart Jr. was sentenced to 4½ years in federal prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme to swindle millions of dollars from home lenders. Lockhart was sentenced in Dallas after pleading guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.