The New York Giants don't exactly expect a smooth transition going from the replacement referees to the real ones this week.
Despite the regular referees returning Thursday — after reaching an agreement between the NFLRA and the league — Giants defensive end Justin Tuck thinks the officiating on the field may still be a little tentative.
"It's still going to be an issue when the real guys come back," said Tuck. "They are going to be rusty; they haven't had a preseason to practice their craft. It would be like me coming to play a regular-season game, having not practiced or having a pre-season game."
The Giants are probably hoping that the real refs have, at least, been practicing on their Madden '12 as the team heads into the unwelcoming confines of Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's nationally-televised game.
We all know how well the last nationally-televised NFL game ended.
The Giants face their division rival in a important early season game and are thankful they will have a strong and experienced — if only a little out-of-shape — officiating crew calling the game.
"It is especially difficult with a running quarterback like [Michael] Vick; it creates problems," said linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. "You don't know if he is running the ball. Is he looking to pass? Is he defenseless player? Is he a runner? Those kinds of plays are difficult for anybody in real time and they are not always revealed in plays."
The Giants players won't blame the rent-a-refs for affecting how they played any games but some claim that the players could help persuade how the replacement refs called some.
Tight end Martellus Bennett claims it's not only the controversial rulings like Monday night's highly-publicized Packers-Seahawks fiasco that affected the quality of play, it was the intimidation of the fill-in refs by the players and coaches throughout the game.
"Nobody really respects the replacements. Guys get in their face and do things guys wouldn't do to regular refs they do to these guys," Bennett said. "They go up to the replacement refs and say, 'Hey, he's holding. You need to call that.' With the regular refs, they would just go up and say, 'Did you see that holding?'
"It works a little bit, if you're persuasive — and a star. If (Cardinals receiver) Larry Fitzgerald comes up to you and you're a replacement ref and he says, 'Hey, this guy is holding me the whole time,' it's Larry Fitzgerald. What's a replacement ref gonna do?"