NFL news roundup: Rule changes coming this season and an Aaron Hernandez update

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL announced several rule changes for the upcoming season, investigators announced they're looking elsewhere for the possible murder weapon in the Aaron Hernandez investigation, and Daryl Washington announced he's headed to New York in hopes of lessening his suspension.

The NFL announced a few rule changes to be made for the upcoming season, and thanks to our own Peter Berkes, SB Nation has a useful rundown of what all of the new things will mean for the beautiful game.

Most of the changes have to do with player safety, obviously, but the rule change with erroneously-thrown challenge flags was an interesting wrinkle after a couple teams complained about it last season.

A play can still be reviewed if a coach erroneously throws a challenge flag. If the play in question is a scoring play, turnover, play inside 2 minutes of a half, or during overtime, the team will be charged a timeout automatically. If the team does not have any timeouts, they will be assessed a 15 yard penalty, but the play will still be reviewed.

Other changes had to do with kicking plays, the tuck rule, pads and hitting with the crown of the helmet, among other things.

Aaron Hernandez investigators no longer searching lake for handgun

The investigators searching for a murder weapon in the case of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez have concluded that the gun they're looking for isn't in the lake they've been searching. They still apparently believe it's in water, however, as they're moving their search to a smaller body of water near where they were originally searching.

Packers have options for starting running back

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy believes that DuJuan Harris is his team's starting running back. That goes against some other things being talked about in training camp, though, as rookie Eddie Lacy has been the talk of quite a few practices.

The Packers also have James Starks, Alex Green and  rookie Johnathan Franklin vying for time in the backfield. Regardless of their merits or McCarthy's comments, however, Acme Packing Company's Eric Balkman sees the job as being Lacy's to lose after watching him in the team's annual scrimmage.

Rumbling for 65 yards on just eight carries (including 16-yard and 19-yard runs), Lacy clearly separated himself from the rest of his backfield mates. At least one report from training camp Tuesday even stated that the Packers coaching staff was already rewarding Lacy for his display Saturday night. With Lacy being the back that Green bay is most invested in, he already had the easiest path to getting the lion's share of carries this year. Now it appears that all of the other cubs will just be fighting for scraps.

Alex Barron could start for Raiders after two-year NFL absence

Alex Barron missed the 2011 season due to injury and was out of the NFL last season as well, but the former Florida State product is looking like a potential starter for the Oakland Raiders this season.

Barron is currently getting first-team snaps with Menelik Watson sidelined with an injury, but he's taking advantage of that opportunity. Levi Damien from Silver and Black Pride wrote a nice article on the big man, too, nothing that Barron has earned his opportunity with Oakland.

The Raiders have had Barron moving back and forth from right and left tackle. He has been the primary backup on both sides behind Jared Veldheer and Khalif Barnes respectively. So, even when Watson does return to action, there will be room for both of them.

Watching him dominate edge rushers in blocking drills and earn the respect of the coaches more each day makes one wonder if he can clean up his penalties, just how good he could be. He would certainly offer the team some security in case a starter were to be lost to injury. That's a great value to the rebuild effort in Oakland.

Cardinals linebacker hoping to reduce suspension

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington was issued a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, but he's going to visit with officials in New York in hopes of getting that suspension reduced.

The veteran linebacker hasn't shed any light to the media on why he was suspended, making it difficult to surmise whether or not he'll be successful with his trip to the NFL offices.

More from SB Nation:

Why is Jermichael Finley so mad?

Fantasy football: Running back rankings

8 key training camp battles

The NFL's secret relocation plan

The List: Unsportsmanlike NFL celebrations

Complete NFL training camp coverage

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