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Kaboly: NFL refs lay out new rules to Steelers players/coaches


More penalties and more passing.

And yeah, no more of that trash talking and goal post dunks.

NFL officials were on campus at St. Vincent College on Thursday and Friday detailing to coaches, players and media new rule changes and points of emphasis for the upcoming 2014 NFL season. (Here is the video that was shown to the media and players)

And, of course, it is centered around safer play and more points.

One of the “major” points emphasis this year is illegal contact by a defensive back within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.

As you know, 5 yards is legal. Anything after that isn’t.

Veteran field judge Bob Waggoner said that the 5 yards legal zone has gradually expanded over the years.

“What has happened over the years is that it kind of stretched a little bit from a 5-yard belt that went to 6 yards that went to 6 ½ yards. It kind of stretched itself a little bit to a point where they wanted to bring it back,” Waggoner said. “It’s like a rubber band. It got stretched a little bit and not they want to bring back. That was kind of where we were at.”

While that may result in more offense, Waggoner said that offensive pass interference (pushing off at top of the route) is also a major point of emphasis.

“It’s a two-way street,” Waggoner said. “Offensive pass interference is also a big point of emphasis. When we talk offensive pass interference, we talk about bubble screens where guys are 3 or 4 yards down the field blocking. That’s a big point. They get one yard. It’s where the point of contact is. That is going to be called as strict as illegal contact.”

Here are some of the rule changes for 2014:

Zero tolerance on verbal abuse – Players will be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct if they verbally abuse an opponent in any way, even in a joking manner. Specifically, the officials will be looking for any inappropriate racial or sexual-orientation comments.

“It needs to be directed specifically at a player or an official, particularly any derogatory, personal statements that are made toward players, those kinds of things,” Waggoner said. “We won’t have rabbit ears. If it is a in-your-face, one-on-one type of thing we are trying prevent.”

No cut blocks from the side – It’s still legal to cut a defensive linemen, but you better get your head in front of the legs and don’t roll after the block. It’s illegal to make a block to the side of a defender’s leg now.

Replay consultation with New York – The referee will still have final call on the play in review, but he will have help from vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and/or senior director of officiating Alberto Riveron during replay reviews. A recovery a fumble in the field of play is also now reviewable.

No dunking on goal posts – Call this the Jimmy Graham rule. The pylon, crossbar and uprights are off-limits in celebrations. A violation will result in a 15-yard penalty.

The game clock will remain running after a sack — In the past, the clock wouldn’t run until the ball was marked for play.

Here are the point of emphasis:

* Hand to face, neck and head, even if it is only for a brief moment, will be flagged within the interior line.

* Even the slightest non-football movement at the line of scrimmage may result in a false start penalty.




Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as four Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa, XLV in Dallas and 50 in San Francisco. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug

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