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Player Safety, Roster Management Round Out Proposed NFL Rule Changes

Changes to instant replay and pushing back the trade deadline were not the only changes proposed by the NFL competition committee on Wednesday. A total of 13 changes to the league rules and bylaws will go to NFL owners for a vote at their meeting next week in Palm Beach, FL. Player safety and roster changes also figured into the committee's proposals.

Keeping their eye on player safety, the NFL is proposing removing the exemption for quarterbacks in the pocket on horse-collar tackles. Currently, defensive players are allowed to bring down quarterbacks using what would otherwise be flagged as a horse-collar tackle. The rule on crackback blocks would also be expanded under the changes to protect defenseless players.

After a season marked with high-profile injuries, teams could get a break with a change to the league's injured reserve policy. Players placed on injured reserve now are out for the season, even if they could return after a period of time. The NFL wants to allow teams an exemption to bring a player back from injured reserve. Under the league's proposal, teams could designate a player for return from the injured reserve list if that player lands on IR after the first week of the season. That player would be allowed to practice after six weeks and play after eight.

The seven proposed rule changes are:

  1. Moving video reviews to the booth
  2. Removing the exception to the horse-collar tackle for quarterbacks in the pocket
  3. Changing regular season overtime rules to match those used in the playoffs
  4. Adding a loss of down to the penalty for kicking a loose ball
  5. Adopting college rules for too many men on the field
  6. Expanding the rule on crackback blocks that would make it illegal to hit players in the head or neck area
  7. Automatic instant replay of turnovers

The six proposed changes to the NFL bylaws are:

  1. Modify roster rules for teams playing on Thanksgiving and Christmas
  2. Moving the trade deadline back to Week 8
  3. Expanding offseason roster limit to 90 players, including undrafted free agents
  4. Moving the league's final roster cut deadline to Friday evening rather than the Saturday prior to the start of the season
  5. Adding a roster exemption for a player on injured reserve
  6. A weekly roster exemption for each team for a player inactive due to a concussion