NFL news: Approved 2020 playing rules and bylaws announced
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Approved 2020 NFL playing rules and bylaws announced

NFL, punt return

On Thursday, the NFL approved several new rules and bylaws to be implemented for the 2020 season, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The first rule, suggested by the Philadelphia Eagles, was approved, and expands, “automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul.”

The next two new rules were both submitted through the Competition Committee. First, the NFL expanded protections to defenseless players to include ball-carriers during kickoffs and punt returns who, “[have] not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.”

Second, the rules committee’s other approved proposal prevents teams from, “manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls” during a running clock.

The only bylaw passed by the NFL to be instituted is expanding the number of players designated on the Injured Reserve list from two to three.

The Eagles’ call for expanded replay reviews comes at no surprise given the league and teams’ insistence to check questionable calls during scoring plays — the essential moments of any NFL game. Often, players will return a potential pick-six or fumble recovery for a touchdown when an unrelated penalty negates the scoring play. This could be upended by the rule change to expand automatic replay reviews.

Additionally, the dead-ball foul game clock manipulation appears to be a direct blow to head coach Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans, who utilized a loophole in the NFL’s rule book against his former team, the New England Patriots, in the AFC Wild Card round in January. Vrabel ordered his team to jump offsides and grab a delay of game penalty. In total, the Titans took off nearly two minutes of game time in a close matchup with the powerhouse Patriots.

The NFL took action to remove this loophole, along with other expansions of the rule book, on Thursday.