The NFL is considering a plan to use an eighth official in preseason games this season, the league's head of officiating said in an interview posted on NFL.com.
Dean Blandino said the extra official will line up in the offensive backfield with the referee and umpire and will focus on interior line play. Blandino added that the idea is being tested on an experimental basis only and won't be implemented in the regular season.
By adding an eighth official, the NFL is hoping to see if it improves the consistency of calls involving play between the tackles. The league has used seven-official crews since 1978.
It wouldn't be the first time the league has tested an eight-man crew.
In the 2010 and 2011 preseasons, the NFL added an extra official who lined up 25 yards downfield to test whether it would help the crew with the complex passing packages that teams now deploy. Although Blandino said it helped, the league didn't feel it was necessary to add on a permanent basis.