The NFL announced a hand full of new rules or rule changes that were voted on and passed at this weeks owners meetings in Phoenix Arizona. None of the rule changes were monumental changes but mostly just tweaks to present rules to try and further increase the level of safety in the game.
On the field injury detection and intervention
The NFL will now provide and mandate a medical spotter for each game. The spotter will be allowed to stop the game if they believe they have "clear visual evidence" that a player "displays obvious signs of disorientation" that may be a sign that the player suffered a concussion. The spotter will have the ability to stop the game via direct communication with officials and team medical staffs. The player in question then would be removed from the field to undergo a proper medical evaluation. Both teams can make substitutions during any of these game stoppages. Additionally coaches will not be allowed to enter the field of play of communicate via the player headsets during these stoppages.
Replay change, game clock review: Amendment to rule 15, section 2, article 4
Game officials will now have the ability to review any situation where the game clock appears to have expired in error and then remedy the situation by adding back time if necessary and under the framework of the new rule. Time can only be added back to the clock in the second half of a game if the score between the two teams is separated by one score (eight points or less) or less and the additional play will go to the team snapping the ball and that team is the team that is behind at that point in the game. Time will also be added in the second half for either team if both teams are tied at the time. No time will be added back to the clock if the time left is determined to have been one second.
Defensive team formation: Amendment to rule 9, section 1, article 3
Defenses lining up against a team in either a kicking or punting formation can not line up directly across from the long snapper (this part of the rule was already in place). In addition defensive players can now not push their own teammate on the defensive line into a player on the offensive line in an effort to try and block the kick or punt. The penalty for the infraction will be a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
Peel back block: Amendment to rule 12, section 2, article 4
Peel back blocks to the side and below the waist of opposing players was already illegal for an offensive player lined up inside of the tackle box if the blocker was moving towards his own end line and approaching from behind or along side the opposing player. The rule now applies to all offensive players regardless of where they are lined up.
Defenseless player: Amendment to rule 12, section 2, article 7
Before the amendment defenseless players were considered to be players in the act of throwing a pass or immediately following the throwing of a pass and receivers attempting to catch or having just caught a pass without enough time to protect themselves. The rule was expanded to intended receivers in the immediate aftermath of an interception. The player hitting the defenseless receiver will receive a 15 yard penalty but the interception will continue to stand.
Chop block: Amendment to rule 12, section 2, article 3
Chop blocks, blocks against a defender already engaged with another offensive players above the waist are now additionally illegal for running backs going after defenders lined up outside of the area that was originally occupied by the tight end.
Patriots ineligible receiver ploy
It is now illegal for an offensive player with and eligible receiver's jersey number (1-49 or 80-89) to report as ineligible and line up outside of the tackle box.