Replay altered; roll-ups banned

In the first action to come out of this week's NFL Owners' Meetings, the owners voted today to offer an additional level of protection to both the league's defensive players and to its referees.

The protection to defensive players will be physical in nature, because the league has banned "roll up" blocks to the side of a player's leg. These blocks already were illegal from behind, and now the owners have agreed to add the words "or side" to the rules preventing blocks to the knee from behind.

Of much more interest to fans figures to be the modification to instant replay that also was adopted, a change that should protect the referee from making an incorrect ruling after viewing a play under the hood.

Known as Rule Proposal 9, this measure allows referees to consult with the league's officiating department in New York during replay reviews. Proponents of this rule believe this will improve accuracy and speed during replay reviews.

The rule is to be applied this way: the NFL Officiating Command Center in New York that's headed by Dean Blandino immediately will begin to review replays after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets under the hood that's set up on site, Blandino will be able to advise him on what to look for in the play. The referee still is charged with making the final choice on the challenge, but he essentially will be consulting with his boss before doing so.

Other rules and proposals are expected to be voted on during Wednesday's session in Orlando.

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