Two of the six rules proposals submitted by the NFL’s competition committee to league owners at this year’s annual meeting were passed in a Tuesday vote.
The first new rule makes illegal “peel-back” blocks below the waist in the tackle box. The second is trying to offer more player safety on punts and field goal/extra point attempts.
A peel-back block occurs when an offensive player contacts a defender who is moving parallel or backward toward the end line (i.e. end zone). The ban was spurred by a season-ending knee injury suffered last October by Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing when he was hit low on a peel-back block by New York Jets left guard Matt Slauson.
An illegal peel-back block will now draw a 15-yard penalty.
The other rule changes came on special teams. More than six players on the defensive side of the football cannot be aligned on one side of the center when trying to block a punt/kick. A player trying to block a punt or field goal must have their entire body outside the long snapper’s shoulder pads. That change should offer better protection for the snapper, who is in a vulnerable position when firing the football back.
Both of those infractions will draw five-yard penalties.
Defensive players also cannot shove or push their teammates into offensive players at the line of scrimmage trying for a block. Doing so will now draw a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
The league still plans to vote on four more rules by Wednesday afternoon that include proposals relating to the “Tuck Rule,” a revamped penalty for the illegal throwing of a replay challenge flag, and the prohibition of an offensive player from using the crown of their helmet to initiate contact with a defender outside the tackle box.