NFL using eighth on-field official in four games as experiment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NFL is experimenting with an eighth on-field official at four preseason games.

Called a "deep judge," the official was part of crews working Saturday's Tennessee Titans-Carolina Panthers and New York Giants-Baltimore Ravens games. The official also was used at Friday's Atlanta Falcons-Miami Dolphins contest and is scheduled for Thursday's Cincinnati Bengals-Indianapolis Colts game.

The official is positioned in the defensive backfield opposite the back judge. His primary responsibility is to watch for eligible receivers, but he also can help with watching other parts of the field as assignments have changed since the umpire was moved into the offensive backfield.

The NFL competition committee will evaluate video of the four games before deciding whether to add the official for the 2011 regular season.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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