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New NFL Rules for the 2015 Season

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The NFL Communications department sent out a week 1 preview earlier today, and on it was a reminder of the new rules that are in place for the 2015 season.

Here are the new rules and points of emphasis for this year.

Extra point: If you caught any preseason games, you may have noticed that the extra point kick attempt is now snapped from the 15 yard line. This wasn't just a preseason test run, this is how it is now in the NFL. Teams electing to go for a two point conversion will have the ball remain at the two yard line. Also, if the defense blocks a kick, intercepts or recovers a fumble when a team is going for 2, they can now return it for two points.

Injury timeout: There are now independent ATC (certified athletic trainers) spotters located in the press box that can notify game officials to stop the game if they see a player exhibiting obvious signs of disorientation (concussion like symptoms). If a spotter notices that a player has these signs and it looks as though he will remain in the game, the game will be stopped immediately and the player will need to leave the game to be evaluated by the medical staff. The spotters only step in if the game officials and the medical staff fail to recognize a potential injury.

This season, game officials have been directed to be on the look out for potential head injuries and they will stop the game immediately so the player can get medical attention.

Unnecessary roughness: Player safety has been at the forefront of the NFL for a few years now so several adjustments were made to the unnecessary roughness rule. I'll present these verbatim.

  • Defenseless player protections are expanded to the intended receiver of a pass following an interception or potential interception. A receiver who is clearly tracking the football and is in a defenseless posture will receive defenseless player protections.
  • Rules prohibiting illegal "peel back" blocks extend to all offensive players.
  • All chop blocks involving a back are eliminated to give defenders additional protection from low blocks.
  • The prohibition against pushing teammates into the offensive formation is extended to punt plays. All rules that encourage player safety will continue to be strictly enforced. The focus is on eliminating these tactics from the game. Players must avoid hitting or blocking opponents in the head or neck area, or using the crown or hairline parts of the helmet to make forcible contact anywhere on the body.

Sportsmanship: The league made sure to point out that this is always a point of emphasis. I'll go verbatim on this one as well.

The use of abusive, threatening or insulting language directed at opponents, teammates, coaches, officials or representatives of the league is covered under unsportsmanlike conduct playing rules. This includes racial slurs, comments regarding sexual orientation or other verbal abuse.

So basically, don't be an A-Hole.

What constitutes a catch: The Dez Bryant rule (previously refereed to as the Calvin Johnson Rule) has had its language altered to make it easier to understand, although some NFL experts feel it's more confusing than ever. I'll let you be the judge as I present it exactly how it was presented by the NFL Communications department.

In order to complete a catch, a receiver must clearly become a runner. He does that by gaining control of the ball, touching both feet down and then, after the second foot is down, having the ball long enough to clearly become a runner, which is defined as the ability to ward off or protect himself from impending contact. If, before becoming a runner, a receiver falls to the ground in an attempt to make a catch, he must maintain control of the ball after contacting the ground. If he loses control of the ball after contacting the ground and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. Reaching the ball out before becoming a runner will not trump the requirement to hold onto the ball when you land. When you are attempting to complete a catch, you must put the ball away or protect the ball so it does not come loose.

Got it? So was that Dez Bryant catch last year a catch or not?

I'm still confused.

Any thoughts on the new rules?