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NFL Owners Pass Two New, Safety Related Rules

Trainers work on Houston Texans  linebacker Brian Cushing during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in 2012. i i

Trainers work on Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in 2012. Kathy Willens/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Kathy Willens/AP
Trainers work on Houston Texans  linebacker Brian Cushing during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in 2012.

Trainers work on Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets in 2012.

Kathy Willens/AP

NFL owners passed two rules aimed at improving player safety, today.

The Associated Press reports:

"The owners outlawed peel-back blocks anywhere on the field; previously, they were illegal only inside the tackle box. A player makes a peel-back block when he is moving toward his goal line, approaches an opponent from behind or the side and makes contact below the waist.

"The penalty will be 15 yards.

"Also banned is overloading a formation while attempting to block a field goal or extra point. Defensive teams can now have only six or fewer players on each side of the snapper at the line of scrimmage. Players not on the line can't push teammates on the line into blockers, either.

"The alignment violation is a 5-yard penalty. The pushing penalty is 15 yards for unnecessary roughness."

NFL.com reports the peel-back ban will likely come to be known as the "Brian Cushing Rule." The Houston Texans linebacker suffered a serious knee-injury that ended his season during a peel-back play.

"If my injury further prevents other injuries, then that's success and there can be some good to come out of my injury," Cushing is quoted as saying. "Hopefully, my injury does change the rule and in the future will prevent tons and tons of knee injuries."

Now, there is still one controversial rule the owners have not voted on. That would be a rule banning so-called "crown-of-the-helmet" hits.

As the AP explains it, that's when a ball-carrier outside the tackle box lowers his head to make contact with defenders using the top of his head.

The owners meetings conclude Wednesday. The AP says it's unlikely the owners will make a decision by then.

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