NEW YORK — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says possibly using replacement referees for regular-season games is worthwhile to ensure long-term improvements to officiating.
The league and the NFL Referees Association have yet to reach an agreement, and Goodell acknowledged Thursday that time was running out to make the regular officials available for the openers.
“We’re anxious to get a deal done, but it has to get done that it’s going to help us for the long term,” Goodell said. “It’s not a short-term issue.”
Officials probably need a week to 10 days to prepare for the season, Goodell said, and the first game is Sept. 5, 13 days away. The first full Sunday of games is Sept. 9.
PANTHERS: Five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith was held out of practice again Thursday with an infection in his left foot.
REDSKINS: Running back Tim Hightower is set to play in his first game since reconstructive knee surgery.
Coach Mike Shanahan said that he plans to Hightower on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.
• Clinton Portis formally announced his retirement Thursday, frequently shedding tears.
COWBOYS: Tight end Jason Witten is making good progress recovering from a spleen injury, and is scheduled to see another doctor next week.
Coach Jason Garrett says doctors have monitored the Pro Bowl tight end’s tests and blood work since he sustained a lacerated spleen after taking a hard hit in the preseason opener Aug. 13.
PACKERS 27, BENGALS 13
In Cincinnati, Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to a big first half, running for 52 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason victory.
Running back Cedric Benson made his Packers debut against his former team and ran six times for 38 yards.
RAVENS 48, JAGUARS 17
In Baltimore, Joe Flacco completed 27 of 36 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns before leaving early in the third quarter, and Baltimore cruised to the win.
TITANS 32, CARDINALS 27
In Nashville, Tenn., Jake Locker threw for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his home debut as Tennessee’s starting quarterback, and the Titans beat Arizona.
Locker threw for 124 yards and both TDs in giving Tennessee a 17-10 halftime lead and finished 11 of 20 for 134 yards with a 109.2 passer rating. He got plenty of help as the Titans (No. 21 in the AP Pro32) got another strong showing on defense.
End Kamerion Wimbley had two sacks, linebacker Colin McCarthy returned one of his two interceptions 31 yards for a TD and the Titans (2-1) forced five turnovers overall. Returner Marc Mariani broke his left leg.
The Cardinals (No. 23) struggled without left tackle Levi Brown, who tore his right triceps in Arizona’s 31-27 win over Oakland last week. John Skelton, who started at quarterback for Arizona (1-2), lasted until early in the second quarter.