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Around the AFC: Are rules changing?

AFC general managers weighed in on a handful of topics at the NFL Scouting Combine, including rule changes that will garner more discussion at the Annual League Meeting in March.

  • Ravens' General Manager Ozzie Newsome got the obligatory questions about quarterback Joe Flacco's contract, the state of the Ravens, and other related questions at the NFL Scouting Combine. But Newsome, a member of the NFL's competition committee, also fielded plenty of other questions.


On replay changes and the targeting rule:**
"Right now, we're just in a lot of discussions about a lot of different issues, but we haven't come to any decisions on anything. As far as targeting, basically we have that with the launching, the hitting of a defenseless player. We have that. We also have the leading with the crown. We have that rule in place. Will we do some tweaking with some of that? Yes, we potentially can, but it won't happen until we get down in Florida."

On if he thinks there will be ejections for personal fouls: "Well, the commissioner has already stated that and that's something that the committee has talked about. We talked about it with the coaches subcommittee, also with the Players Association. We met with them and we talked about it, and with the general managers committee. Hopefully, we can craft something for the March meeting, but I think we're moving in that direction. We have to make sure that the rule that we craft is fair and equitable for everyone."

  • Questions about Muhammad Wilkerson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and other players dominated New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan's time talking to the media at the Combine, but he did manage to touch on another topic, scouting players from smaller colleges.

"Every team has a different approach," said Maccagnan. "My personal approach and my personal philosophy has always been, when you take a player at a smaller school it's a little more difficult because even within divisions, there's obviously a different level of competition from division to division. But within the divisions there are different levels of competition within the conferences. That's why the college draft is fairly tricky or difficult. When you focus on the smaller-school kids, and if they are invited to an event like this, this is where you really get the chance to see them measure up ability-wise. The most difficult thing when you evaluate players at a smaller school tends to be trying to assess their skill level, their athletic ability. You kind of watch them on tape and a lot of the evaluation process is very subjective.

"And then the other part you have to factor in is the facilities they have in terms of their schools. Like a Division 1-A school in Alabama may have much bigger resources, in terms of dietitians and meal plans and weight rooms and all those aspects, whereas you go to a smaller school, they may not have the resources to financially do stuff like that. I tend to believe the smaller-school guys, or some late-round draft picks or even college free agents make great jumps as you kind of get them in. And sometimes the jumps that they make from years one, two and three are much more dramatic than, maybe, a guy at a bigger school has reached more of his potential at that point in time."

The 2016 Steelers Fan Blitz presented by Xfinity will be held at Heinz Field on Saturday, April 30. For ticket information and details click on Steelers Fan Blitz.

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