The new rules for the 2014 season


LATROBE, Pa. – The NFL's replay review process has been expanded in an effort to promote more consistency.

Game referees will now be in contact with a "command center" that will be located in New York City and receive "input" from a league senior official while undergoing reviews, field judge Bob Waggoner said today at Saint Vincent College.

Either NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino or NFL Senior Director of officiating Alberto Riveron will be available for consultation with a game referee from the command center. The game referee, Waggoner said, will still "ultimately make the call."

The extra set of eyes in the process is an attempt by the NFL to "develop consistency from game to game," Waggoner said.

The replay process is still supposed to be completed in 60 seconds.

Waggoner, line judge Tom Stephan, side judge James Coleman and NFL advanced development program official Jonah Monroe have been on campus the past couple of days, attending practices and updating the Steelers on rules changes/clarifications/points of emphasis for 2014.

Among the highlights from a video produced by the NFL that is being shown to the league's players and coaches:

  • It is no longer legal for an offensive blocker to roll up onto the side of the legs of a defender (clipping, 15 yards).
  • The game clock will no longer be stopped after a quarterback sack with more than two minutes remaining in a half.
  • Recovery of a loose ball in the field of play is now reviewable.
  • The stance on unsportsmanlike conduct will be zero tolerance, particularly as it relates to verbal abuse directed specifically at a player or at an official relating to racial slurs or sexual orientation (15-yard penalty, potential discipline).
  • Using the ball, pylon, crossbar, goalpost or any other object as a prop as part of a demonstration is also unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • Game officials will closely monitor contact to the face that does not pin back an opponent's head or isn't prolonged (formerly legal, now illegal hands to the face).

Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's fifth day of Training Camp.

  • Game officials will closely monitor contact between receivers and defensive players. Defenders cannot initiate contact with receivers more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage when the quarterback is in the pocket with the ball. A defender is entitled to an established position beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage and can use his hands or arms to defend illegal contact. Grabbing the jersey is defensive holding and will be called. And receivers can use their hands and arms to ward off contact but cannot push off to gain separation.
  • Movement on the offensive line will continue to be a point of emphasis. Quick or abrupt action that simulates the start of play is a foul regardless of whether there is a defensive reaction (false start, 5 yards).
  • All players other than kickers and punters must wear thigh and knee pads (5-yard penalty, disqualification for repeat offense).
  • It is incumbent upon all players to recognize when an opponent is in a defenseless posture and to avoid hitting or blocking them in the head or neck area and avoid using the crown or hairline part of the helmet to make contact anywhere.  Defensive players also receive defenseless player protection in certain situations.
  • The ball will be placed at the 15-yard line for extra points in the Hall of Fame Game and in the first two weeks of the preseason as an experiment to make the PAT a more competitive play. Two-point conversions will still be attempted from the 2-yard line.
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