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NFL owners pass more rules to improve player safety

With player safety a continued emphasis for the NFL, owners held a pair of votes Tuesday to improve the game in that sense. 

The kickoff changes implemented last season, which eliminated wedge blocks, disallowed running start and instituted alignment regulation, was voted on and made permanent. According to the NFL, concussions decreased by 38 percent on kickoffs last year compared to 2015-17. 

Owners took it another step further and voted to eliminate blindside blocks. Per the NFL, one third of concussions from punt plays resulted from blindside blocks.

Of course, those types of blocks can take place on other types of plays, but all blindside blocks are now illegal. The new rule means that “any forcible contact by the blocker with his head, shoulder or forearm is prohibited.” 

Both scheduled votes were expected to pass, so the changes come as little surprise. 

Additionally, all the competition committee will introduce a new replay provision that allows an official in the booth to initiate reviews for blatant no-calls on the field, according to ESPN. The rule received support from all 32 head coaches, and the proposal gained traction following the pass interference no-call in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game two months ago. 

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