Antwaan Randle El is a name Steelers fans are very familiar with, and now he’s back in the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired the Super Bowl XL hero to join their coaching staff as an offensive assistant, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Randle El, who was drafted in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Indiana University, spent 5 of his 9 seasons in the league in Pittsburgh, including two with new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. He still holds the distinction as the only receiver to ever throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, when he connected with teammate Hines Ward for one of the most iconic plays in Steelers history.
Since retiring as a player in 2010, Randle El has spent time as a sideline reporter for NFL Network and the Big Ten Network.
Randle El accumulated 370 receptions, 8,783 yards combined as a receiver and returner and 27 total touchdowns for the Steelers and Washinton Redskins.
NFL Adds to League Officiating Department; Alberto Riveron Remains Top Replay Official
The NFL has drastically altered the structure of its officiating office, but Alberto Riveron will remain the man in charge of league replay reviews.
The league announced on Thursday that longtime referee Walt Anderson and former NFL coach Perry Fewell have joined the NFL officiating department.
Fewell, 57, will oversee the officiating department, including communications with head coaches and general mangers, and be the league’s liaison to the NFL Referee Association and the NCAA.
He joins the league office after last serving as the Carolina Panthers’ interim head coach in 2019. He was also interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2009. Fewell was the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills from 2006-09 and New York Giants from 2010-14 and was a defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-02 and 2017-18), the St. Louis Rams (20030-04), Chicago Bears (2005), Washington Redskins (2015-16) and Carolina Panthers (2019). Fewell also worked as a collegiate assistant at North Carolina, Army, Kent State and Vanderbilt.
Anderson, 67, spent 24 years as an NFL official and the last 17 seasons as a referee before moving into the league office as senior vice president of officiating training and development, where one will oversee game officials, their development, training, education, recruitment and more.
That will leave less on the able other than his role as the league’s lead replay official, a role he will return to for his eighth season.
Each of Anderson, Fewell and Riveron will report directly to NFL executive vice president of of football operations Troy Vincent.
“Our intentions are to implement meaningful improvements to the game and officiating,” Vincent said in a press release. “We will continue to make every effort to improve officiating and pursue officiating excellence.”
NFL to Allow Three Players to Return from Injured Reserve
The NFL owners have voted to expand the number of players that can return from the injured reserve list during the virtual 2020 owner’s meetings, the second session of which was held virtually on Thursday.
NFL teams will now be able to place three players on injured reserve and allow them to return to competition in the same season. Teams had been allowed to return two such players since 2017. When the rule was first installed, only one player could return and he had to be identified beforehand.
Now, players are eligible to return from injured reserve after missing eight weeks, which was clarified in the updated rule for 2020 to mean eight missed team games, and not eight calendar weeks. A regular-season bye week will not count in the eight weeks required to be served. Postseason bye weeks will continue to count toward the minimum.
Players will still be allowed to practice with their teams for two weeks preceding their eligibility to return from the reserve list, and a total of 21 days before he must be added to the roster or remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
The proposal, which was submitted by the league office, was the only modification to the league’s bylaws approved during Thursday’s meeting. There were several changes made to the league’s playing rules.
The Steelers placed 10 players on the injured reserve list in 2019: defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and LT Walton, fullback Roosevelt Nix, linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, safety Sean Davis, tight end Xavier Grimble and wide receiver Ryan Switzer. None returned from the designation to play in 2019.
NFL Owners Approve Changes to Automatic Replay, Defenseless Receivers, Timing
The NFL owners approved three rules changes during the 2020 NFL owner’s meetings, the second phase of which was held virtually on Thursday.
Among the changes were measures to make permanent the 2019 expansion of replay review to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a penalty, increase defenseless player protections to kickoff and punt returns and to prevent offenses from abusing the clock by committing successive penalties.
The first proposal, submitted by the Philadelphia Eagles, is the most impactful. Any scoring play or turnover will continue to be automatically reviewed, even if there is a penalty on the play that could negate the ruling. Extra point and two-point conversion plays will also be automatically reviewed.
Additionally, kick and punt returners will now receive defenseless player protections until they have become a runner.
“Players in a defenseless posture are … a kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air who has not had time to clearly become a runner,” the adjusted rule reads. “If the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player.”
It is a penalty to forcibly hit the head or neck area of a defenseless player, hit a defenseless player by lowering the head and making forcible contact with the helmet and launching into a defenseless player. The penalty for illegal contact to a defenseless player is a 15-yard loss and an automatic first down. Flagrant violations are subject to ejection based on the discretion of the referee.
Finally, a timing change will prevent offenses from milking the clock by committing successive dead-ball penalties. Such tactic was already prevented by rule from occurring inside the two-minute warning at each half, but was permissible otherwise. Both New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrable have used the tactic in the past, with Vrabel drawing Belichick’s ire for using it against New England in 2019. Belichick called it at that point “a loophole that will be closed and probably should be closed.”