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League testing extra official during 12 preseason games

The NFL is again testing the use of an eighth official -- placed deep in the secondary -- during 12 preseason games this year, *The New York Times* reported Saturday.

The so-called deep judge will be stationed about 25 yards downfield and will stay behind the deepest receiver each play. The league utilized the deep judge in eight preseason games in 2010.

The extra official was used in Friday night's Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Kansas City Chiefs game and will be tried again Saturday night in the New York Giants-Carolina Panthers matchup.

Competition committee chairman Rich McKay told the newspaper that the league most likely will take another year or two to review the data before officially considering adding one more official.

The league most recently added an official -- going from six to seven -- in 1978.

"These receivers are bigger, faster, and the defensive backs are better and they have better coaching now," said Carl Johnson, the NFL's vice president for officiating. "They're doing a really fine job of being creative in the passing game. This is one of the ways to keep up with the game."

The deep judge's presence in the secondary, along with the back judge, side judge and field judge, would mean more attention can be given to passing formations featuring three, four or five receivers.

"Some think we need that to deal with all of the multiple receiver formations we see in today's game," said John Mara, president and CEO of the Giants and a member of the competition committee. "The pass interference call/noncall is so critical to the outcome of the game. Also, the deep judge can help with the catch/no-catch call on passes down the middle."

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