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Five NFL rules changes/clarifications, points of emphasis: Focus on player safety

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Some new rule changes this year means more player protections that will mean more frustrating flags flying during games.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Raiders training camp practice Friday, we met with NFL officials to go over this season’s rule changes and clarifications. Make note of them so you’ll know what’s going on when the yellow laundry flies this season.

It was pointed out by lead official Walt Anderson, who will be officiating at Raiders’ practice the next three days that these rule changes are made primarily with player safety in mind. Here are the new rules:

1. Chop blocks – Classically, a chop block is a two-man high/low block with the low block resulting in a 15-yard penalty. It was also only called in pass protection. The new rule is that chop blocks will be called whether the play is a run, pass, or kick. There will not be a foul called if the defensive player is initiating the contact.

2. Two personal fouls result in ejection – Type of fouls include throwing a punch or kick without contact, use of abusive or threatening language toward an opponent, and taunting. Fighting or flagrant fouls can still result in ejection on one incident.

3. Horse collar rule expanded – Previously a horse collar was only if a player put his hand inside the ball carrier’s pads to drag him down from behind. That rule has expanded to grabbing the jersey at or above the nameplate and dragging them down. It will result in a 15-yard penalty.

4. Touchbacks come out to the 25-yard-line – This new rule has been discussed quite a bit this offseason. The extra five yards is presumably to discourage players from taking the ball out of the endzone on a kick.

5. Coaches calling a timeout when they don’t have one left – If a coach calls for a timeout when they are out of them, they will be penalized five yards for disrupting play.

Those are the rule changes. There were also five ‘Points of emphasis.

1. Hit QB below the knee will result in a 15-yard penalty – Once QB becomes runner, rule is negated.

2. Contact with quarterback on a feet first slide – If QB slides late some contact is allowed, but never with the head.

3. Leading with the crown of the helmet – This means hitting a player with the crown of the helmet anywhere on the body, not just the head and neck area.

4. Center ball movement before snap – A false start penalty will be called if center moves ball too quickly to avoid intent to cause offsides.

5. Blindside block – Blocking a player while facing your own goal line. Basically blocking player on their blindside. This rule is in effect on special teams, change of possession, as well as run plays.