If the number of flags thrown is any indication, the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans have had different experiences with the replacement officials employed by the National Football League while the regular ones have been locked out in a labor dispute.
However, coaches Mike Munchak and Gary Kubiak had similar responses Wednesday to news that the league and its game officials were close to an agreement that would get the regular crews back to work, possibly as soon as Thursday night. Neither had much to say.
Tennessee plays at Houston on Sunday (noon, CBS).
“We’re kind of in a holding pattern on that,” Munchak said. “We’re worried about the Texans and whoever shows up to officiate that will be fine.”
Added Kubiak, who will coach his 100th game Sunday: “I can’t get involved with that. I know that’s not the answer you want, but I have so many other things that I have to worry about. I’m sure they’ll get it worked out.”
Houston (3-0), which has the AFC’s best record, is among the top 10 most penalized teams with 23 penalties for 168 yards against. Tennessee (1-2) is among the least penalized with 17 for 121. Only five teams have been flagged fewer times than the Titans.
Munchak has resisted being critical of the replacement refs even as the issue has gained more notoriety with each week. Wednesday, he suggested that the return of the regular refs would not provide an immediate antidote to blown calls and confusion.
“I think it’s going to be hard,” he said. “Just like it is for players to come back, I think it’s going to be hard for officials to come back after not doing a game since last December (for) a lot of them, and then all of a sudden, they’re doing games, so I think it’s going to be a tough transition either way.
“You want things to get settled. You want to have the best people out there and the guys that have been doing it a lot of years, but I’m sure the process is going to take a little time to get back to normal.”
Kubiak sounded a little more like someone eager to see familiar faces dressed in black and white.
“Those guys do a great job, they always have,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll get it worked out and they’ll be back. We’ve got to stay focused on playing right now. We can’t get caught up in that.”
• Tennessee’s Darius Reynaud was named the AFC special teams player of the week for his performance in Sunday’s 44-41 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions.
He set a franchise record with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and finished with four returns for 174 yards. He also threw a lateral on a first-quarter punt return to cornerback Tommie Campbell, who went 65 yards for a touchdown.
He is the first player in the league to return a kickoff for a touchdown this season and currently ranks 10th with a 29-yard average.
• The Titans placed defensive end Keyunta Dawson on injured reserv and re-signed defensive end Pannel Egboh, who spent last season on the practice squad but was cut at the end of this preseason.
“[Dawson] was contributing, we felt in a big way,” Munchak said. “I thought he was going to really help us throughout the season. To get a hamstring to that level where we thought he’d be out maybe up to eight weeks, the best thing for us to do was put him on injured reserve.
“Then Egboh, I think the fact that he’s so familiar with what we’re doing, he’s a guy that can come in on a short week, coming in on Wednesday and help us if he has to this weekend with some reps. That was an easy decision there to bring him back and help us.”