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Bengals coach Marvin Lewis: Replacement ref didn't know rule

Packers tight end Tom Crabtree left a preseason game against the Bengals on Thursday after being injured on a hit by Cincinnati safety Taylor Mays.

Mays was penalized on the play, but even Crabtree said the call was incorrect. Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the replacement official who made the call didn't understand the "defenseless receiver" rule, reports Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson.

“(The replacement refs) are getting better,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, it will get closer and closer to what we need. His understanding was that the player was a defenseless receiver.

"He was, but you are allowed to hit a defenseless receiver shoulder-to-shoulder. There is no such thing as a defenseless player unless he is hit in the head with your head. It was a misinterpretation of the rule. I know they are working hard. The league is working hard to get this stuff corrected. They are working overtime on it actually. It’ll get better and better.”

Lewis praised the officials and league for working hard to improve, but his criticism reflects the worries of others in the league. The NFL's vice president of operations said that he expects the replacement referees to start the regular season, raising the stakes on any mistakes that could potentially affect a team's playoff hopes.

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