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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New NFL Rule Booth Review on Scoring Plays, Kickoffs 35 Yard-line, two changes approved by NFL owners

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NFL passes replay, kickoff rules changes BY JIM THOMAS  
STLtoday.com 
March 22, 2011
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NEW ORLEANS -- Kickoffs will take place from the 35-yard line and all scoring plays will be subject to a booth review under two rules changes approved by NFL owners Tuesday.
The kickoff return rule was designed to improve player safety by limiting injuries on such plays, particularly concussions by members of the coverage team. Besides moving the kickoff line from the 30 to the 35, all members of the coverage unit other than the kicker must line up no more than five yards behind the kickoff line.
Traditionally, coverage unit members had lined up 10 to 15 yards behind the line. By eliminating such running starts, and shortening the field with the kickoff at the 35, the league hopes to limit injuries.
There were a couple of changes made in the original proposal; touchbacks will still result in the ball being placed at the 20. (The original proposal would have moved the touchback spot to the 25.) And the use of a two-man blocking wedge remains legal. (The original proposal would've banned the wedge.)
The change in the replay system takes the challenge system out of the hands of coaches on all scoring plays. As is the case with the final two minutes of each half, as well as overtime, a referee review can now be initiated by a replay official upstairs at press box level.
Part of the replay proposal was also tweaked in New Orleans. The original proposal would have stopped the awarding of a third challenge by a team if the first two coaches challenges were successful. The proposal as passed keeps the third challenge possibility.
The kickoff measure was approved 26-6; the vote on instant replay was 30-2.

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