Los Angeles (AFP) - A ban on players attempting to block kicks by leaping over linemen and stiffer penalties for helmet hits were among eight rule changes approved Tuesday by NFL team owners at their annual meeting.
The charge-down change, which applies to field goals and extra-point conversion kicks, was proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles and backed by the NFL Players Association as a player safety move.
Timing a leap over the center could allow for a block but the risk increases for injury by the leaping player should he land poorly or players beneath him should something go wrong. NFL owners agreed the move is too dangerous and could result in serious injury.
Video replays will be handled differently under another chance, with a handheld device replacing sideline monitors, allowing league referees to make final decisions on replay requests in real time from a central replay command center.
Ejections for two unsportsmanlike fouls in a game, introduced last season, was made permanent. An automatic ejection was also passed for major hits to the head.
Touchbacks after kickoffs will result in teams starting from the 25-yard line on a one-year renewal of a rule instituted last year. A pitch to have teams start at the 20 if kickoffs go through the uprights failed.
Receivers running pass routes will now be considered defenseless players and given greater protection in the form of stricter rules about how they can be struck.
All crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion have been banned.
Players who commit multiple fouls during a play to manipulate the game clock will be given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and any act to conserve time in the last two minutes of either half will result in a penalty.