August 11, 2014 in Sports

Sideline tablets get mostly positive reviews from coaches

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Packers wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett uses a tablet to review game photos.
(Full-size photo)

Adjusting to new technology just isn’t easy for some people, even in the NFL where everyone is trying to find that winning edge.

Even in a pouring rain, Titans assistant coach Louie Cioffi flipped through soggy black-and-white printouts reviewing the opening series with his defensive backs. A couple times players shielded assistant coaches with towels to study photos of the Green Bay Packers.

So much for the NFL’s new tablets only a few steps away.

Teams wrapped up the first full preseason test of the new Surface tablet from Microsoft for NFL sidelines with mostly good reviews and some glitches to fix. And yes, they were designed with a protective case to survive rugged weather conditions.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sunday he only heard positive feedback on the tablets and the photos available, especially upstairs in the coaching booth. He thinks the key now is only getting accustomed to using the tablet.

“One of the concerns that you had was the rain and how that would affect that, but it didn’t affect it last night,” Whisenhunt said. “And the players seemed to like it too. I mean the ability to zoom in and out to see those looks is a pretty neat thing. I think as the preseason progresses we’ll get more involved with those because it is a tremendous tool.”

The tablets also come with one very big difference from the old photos.

“It’s color,” Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III said, laughing. “We went from black-and-white to color.”

The tablets had their biggest weather test in Nashville, Tennessee, where a couple inches of rain fell Saturday night during the Titans’ 20-16 win over the Packers.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy also gave the tablets a rave review.

“It’s really convenient as far as having every series on the (tablet) as opposed to having a book for each series,” McCarthy said. “Very convenient and nice to not have to leave the sideline and go to the bench.”

Washington defensive backs coach Raheem Morris loves having the entire game right at his fingertips only a swipe away. That keeps him from scrambling to find another batch of papers.

“It just helps coaches be more efficient, and anytime you help a coach be more efficient and save time, that’s ultimately what we’re all looking for,” Morris said.

Coaches did run into some issues.

In Washington’s 23-6 win over New England, one tablet was missing a play from the first series of the game that was on other tablets. That was corrected quickly.

Coaches also had to figure out which direction to swipe for the next picture. Usually, that involves dragging the finger left. This tablet requires a swipe right. Washington coach Jay Gruden called that a little weird, taking time to become accustomed to the difference. Still, count him among the converts to quickly check coverages or blitzes.

“Those tablets do come in handy and I think it’ll take some getting used to by the coaches, but I think they were good,” Gruden said.

Some coaches are sticking with the black-and-white printouts the NFL will use all season as a backup, including Arizona coach Bruce Arians. He joked he will “let (75-year-old assistant) Tom (Moore) handle the high-tech stuff.”

As for the players, the tablets are just another tool.

“They’re all tech-savvy,” Morris said. “They’ve got iPads, they walk around with these iPhones and all this stuff.”

Bennett back with Bears

A contrite Martellus Bennett returned from suspension to practice with the Chicago Bears.

The team suspended Bennett and fined him an undisclosed amount for slamming cornerback Kyle Fuller to the turf last Monday after Fuller had knocked him to the ground in a non-tackling scrimmage.

Manziel, Hoyer still competing

Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer will both take snaps with the Browns’ first-team offense in practice this week.

Coach Mike Pettine said he isn’t ready to choose a starting quarterback for Cleveland’s second preseason game on Aug. 18 in Washington, but plans to have a regular-season starter set before the third preseason game, Aug. 23 against St. Louis.

Around the League

Ravens defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore sustained what appeared to be a season-ending injury in a hard-hitting joint practice with the 49ers. … Defensive tackle Linval Joseph has rejoined the Vikings after being shot in the leg at a bar, and he is expected to recover in time for the start of the regular season.

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