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NFL rules change would alter helmet use

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings runs against

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings runs against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 30, 2012. Credit: Getty Images

Ever watch an NFL running back get into open space and then lower his helmet when a would-be tackler approaches? It's a favorite tactic of several players, including All Pro running back Adrian Peterson of the Vikings. But a new rules change could make such a move illegal. 

Giants president and co-owner John Mara, a member of the competition committee, said on Monday that a rules change would be presented to owners at next week's meetings in Arizona that would alter the use of the helmet. 

Mara said the competition committee voted 8-0 to recommend that players no longer be able use the crown of their helmets to initiate contact with other players. It goes for offensive and defensive players; some tacklers lower their heads and lead with their helmets to make a tackle. 

It's another move designed to "take the helmet out of the game," as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell likes to say. Goodell has made a major push to get players to stop using their helmets to initiate contact and thus reduce the incidence of concussions. 

Mara said the rule change would not apply to plays inside the tackle box near the line of scrimmage. It's more for plays in open space, where collisions can occur at a higher rate of speed than at the beginning of a play in the tackle box. 

Mara also said a rules change that would limit cut blocks will also be proposed. Cut blocks, where blockers dive to the ground to block an opponent at or below the knee, would not be eliminated. But cut blocks that occur from the side or behind a player would be considered a penalty. 

Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was injured on a cut block by Jets guard Matt Slauson in a game last year. Cushing suffered a knee injury and missed the rest of the season. 

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