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NFL announces rule changes

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The NFL announced three new playing rules and one new bylaw change that were adopted by the league for implementation during the 2020 season. Owners and league officials have been meeting virtually this week to weigh this year's changes .

Approved rules include making permanent the use of automatic replay reviews, expanded defenseless player protections for returners and preventing the manipulation of the game clock by committing dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.

The use of replay after scoring plays and turnovers has been successful and will be kept permanently, while the league decided not to continue with last year's expanded challenge ability on pass interference.

Protections for players continues to be a driving force in rule change, as kick and punt returner jobs will get a little less dangerous.

The league will also expand the rule that allows a player to return from Injured Reserve from two players to three in a season. All three players will still have to be on the initial 53-man roster however. That will keep IR from being a place to stash those injured after training camp starts.

The proposed 4th-and-15 alternative for the onside kick did not pass, though the league seems intent on getting away from plays with higher injury potential. Tweaks to the onside kick will remain under consideration.

The full rules announcement from the NFL:

Approved 2020 Playing Rules Summary

  1. By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful Try attempt.
  2. By Competition Committee; expands defenseless player protection to a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.
  3. By Competition Committee; prevents teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.

Approved 2020 Bylaws Summary

  1. By League Office; increases the number of players that may be designated for return from two to three. Incorporates interpretations applicable to bye weeks during the regular season and postseason.

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