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NFL rule changes include chop block, PAT, horse collar tackles

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants mixes it up after a play in the first half against Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

BOCA RATON, Fla. — NFL owners passed a series of relatively minor rules changes Tuesday, but not a measure that would have mandated ejecting any player who committed two unsportsmanlike penalties in a game.

Responding in part to a game late last season in which Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman were involved in a series of scuffles, including one in which Beckham launched himself at Norman and initiated helmet-to-helmet contact, commissioner Roger Goodell had suggested a rule to automatically eject players. It appears there will be further discussion on the proposal, and a vote could be taken before the meetings end Wednesday morning.

Owners adopted a measure to eliminate the controversial chop block, in which a defensive player is blocked by one player high and by another low. Some coaches have voiced concerns that outlawing chop blocks will hurt the running game, but competition committee members disagree. Chairman Rich McKay said the college rule that eliminated chop blocks in 2008 did not lead to a decrease in rushing yardage.

Owners also approved permanently making the line of scrimmage for extra-point kicks the 15. Last year, the measure was approved for one season. The defensive team can score two points by returning a blocked kick or fumbled snap to the end zone.

Another approved measure expanded the “horse collar” tackle to include the name plate on a jersey. The previous rule prohibited grabbing inside a ballcarrier’s shoulder pads.

Another change lets play-callers communicate via headset from the press box or the sideline directly to the quarterback or the designated defensive player. Previously, only a coach on the sideline could communicate with a player on the field.

Owners passed a measure that would penalize a team 5 yards for delay of game if a timeout is called after it is out of timeouts.

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