The NFL has approved several rule changes for the upcoming season. Per Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal, here are all the changes we can expect:
- Touchbacks will move from the 20 to the 25-yard line. The move is being made to try and eliminate kickoff returns for player safety reasons.
- Players who receive two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties of any kind will be ejected from the game. This rule and the touchback rule have been amended for one year and will be voted on again in 2017.
- Coaches will be able to communicate with offensive and defensive signal calls from the booth.
- All chop blocks are now illegal.
- Short-term injured reserved has been modified to allow teams time to designate a player for that list instead of doing it right away. However, only one player will be allowed to be placed on that list. In other words, a team can place a player on the regular injured reserve list and wait six weeks to activate him.
- Horse collar rules have expanded to include when a defender grabs a runners' jersey at the name plat or above. The horse collar penalty has been called this way in the past, so this isn't necessarily a big chance.
- Delay of game penalties will be assessed to teams who call a timeout when they don't have any left.
- The league eliminated “the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down," as well as “multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.”
- Lastly, the league is permanently implementing the 33-yard extra point rule. The league used it on a trial basis last season.
The only rule that really opens eyes is the touchback rule. While five yards isn't an egregious difference in the grand scheme of things, one might make the argument that the league subtly is hoping for more offense by moving touchbacks up a bit further. That's solely conjecture on my part, and maybe it sounds ridiculous, but at least it could make for a compelling conversation.
Given how easily injuries in the NFL happen, you can see where the NFL's head is at with this rule. I personally think it's a bit weird because kickoff returns have always been part of the game. But if it ends up prolonging the careers of kick returners and other special teamers, then you can't really get too upset over it.
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