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NFL sideline tech inches forward

Published August 3, 2014 7:23 pm

NFL notes • Tablets will be available on sidelines, but no video.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

NFL teams used to take Polaroid pictures of plays from atop the stadium during games then send them down to the field on a rope.

Technology improved so that an automated camera could deliver the images to a printer on the sideline, creating that familiar sight of a quarterback staring at a sheet of paper to figure out what went wrong on an interception.

That was still the case last season, when fans in the stands could watch highlights on their smartphones, but players and coaches were flipping through three-ring binders of black-and-white photos.

The NFL sideline is finally catching up.

Sort of.

Tablets will be allowed for the first time starting with Sunday's Hall of Fame game, though they won't exactly be running the most cutting-edge apps. The devices will replicate the old system of transmitting still photos to the field — but faster, clearer and in color.

No surfing the Web. No selfies or tweets. And more important from a football standpoint: no watching replays of the last snap.

"The purity of the game has always been not having video," Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "So when you're looking at pictures you have to sometimes guess, or a lot of times the pictures aren't what really exactly happened. That part of it is still coaching, and I kind of like that."

Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, though, suggested that allowing video would improve the sport by making games even more competitive. And just as instant replay, once revolutionary, is now widely accepted and has been expanded over the years, the same could take place with the tablets. Adding video is possible in the future, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Chiefs' Berry, Cooper return to practice

Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and starting cornerback Marcus Cooper are practicing again at training camp following minor injuries.

Berry missed time with a sore right heel. Cooper tweaked a hamstring.

Their return was the first positive news in a while for the Chiefs. They have been struggling with injuries, especially in their suspect secondary.

Backup safety Sanders Commings is out after surgery for a severe high ankle sprain and fractured fibula. Reserve defensive backs David Van Dyke, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Phillip Gaines also have missed time with various injuries.

Linebacker Dezman Moses left Sunday's workout after hurting his elbow.

Titans' Levitre taken off injury list

Tennessee left guard Andy Levitre has been removed from the non-football injury list 10 days after an appendectomy, and he returned to the field Sunday.

Levitre had his appendix removed July 24, the day before the Titans reported for training camp. He had been running and working out since Monday.

He says he felt good enough to be activated before Sunday's practice rather than Monday's joint practice with Atlanta.