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Steelers’ Clark not concerned with refs

The Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, June 5, 2012 6:30 p.m
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Steelers saftey Ryan Clark during OTAs on the South Side May 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
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Mike Tomlin and Ryan Clark during Challenge the Champions - Every Child Inc. at Heinz Field on Friday, March 23, 2012. Mike Mancini | For the Tribune Review

The NFL Players Association released a statement Monday about the league moving forward in hiring replacement referees for the upcoming year, stating, “The NFL tasked officials with increased responsibilities in protecting player health and safety, and its search for scabs undermines that important function.”

Outspoken Steelers player representative Ryan Clark said Tuesday that if the NFL and the NFL Referee Association aren’t able to come to terms with a new collective bargaining agreement by the start of the season and replacement referees are needed, player safety would not be an issue.

“It actually may go the other way,” Clark said. “They may overcompensate because it is such a big issue. I don’t necessarily think that the safety of the players will be in danger if they get new guys.”

However, Clark went on to say that replacement referees may take away from the game on the field.

“It would be the same way if you had to get replacement players in here,” Clark said. “The guys you choose are the guys you choose for a reason, and that is because you are confident in their abilities.”

Clark feels that a deal will get done in time for the start of the season.

“Nobody wants to be out of work,” Clark said. “You try to get the best deal possible, but at the end, negotiations will come through and referees will be out there.”

• Marcus Gilbert is used to getting switched from one side of the offensive line to the other, so flipping from side-to-side during OTAs has been no big deal for the second-year player out of Florida. Gilbert was at left tackle for the first week of OTAs, but he has been placed on the right side ever since. “It is all about being prepared and taking advantage of your opportunity,” Gilbert said.

• Tight end Heath Miller feels that OTAs are important, but he also knows that being ready for the regular season takes precedence. “You want to be as strong as you can, and the most important thing is to be as healthy as you can be and maintain that throughout the season,” Miller said.

• The Steelers will hold their 10th and final OTA on Thursday at Heinz Field.

– Mark Kaboly

Categories: Steelers
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