This year's NFL rules emphasis on calling holding and pass interference (both offensive and defensive) is not going over well with the Green Bay Packers' defensive backs.
In team drills the last two days, the NFL officials working practice have called more than several holding and interference penalties on the Packers' secondary but no offensive interference. Cornerback Tramon Williams described it as "raining flags," and several of his teammates have regularly complained to or had conversations during practice with officials who'd just penalized them.
"Any tug of the jersey, (pass interference)," Williams said. "That's why you've been seeing so many flags out there. It doesn't matter where it is, they say you can be running down the field just with your hands on the receiver, chances are they're going to emphasize PI right now. It may be called right now. Which is a little ridiculous. But it's emphasis time, so that's what they have to do."
Williams said the officials briefed players on the rules emphases before the first practice they officiated, Thursday – the crew is working here Thursday through the Family Night practice Saturday. They also watched film with the players after practice to discuss whether the calls were correct, and whether they missed penalties on other plays.
Even with the emphasis, Williams said the Packers' defensive backs are going to play the way they always have to start the preseason and see how it's called.
"If they're not going to call it different, then there's no adjustment to be made," Williams said. "I don't think I've ever really played handsy, grabbing the jersey. That's not what I do. I never really played like that."
In meetings with the players, the officials said they're also going to emphasize looking for offensive interference. But Williams said he's skeptical they'll follow through, especially after the first one-on-one coverage drills the NFL officials worked Thursday, when all the penalties were on the defense.
"I never personally trusted it," he said. "You've got to take your chances at this point. Obviously it's offensive skewed at this point, but you have to find a way to be competitive as a defender. Whatever that takes, it takes, you've just got to see what adjustment you've got to make – having to play off a little bit more or sticking to your game if your game is built to play without any of those flags."