NFL owners approve some rule changes

May 22, 2012|By Matt Vensel

The NFL tweaked some of its rules Tuesday, making thigh and knee pads mandatory equipment for players (starting in 2013) and pushing forward a pair of other changes involving the trade deadline and injured reserve.

The rule involving thigh and knee padding for players is already being met with criticism by some players who argue that the bulky, additional padding slows them down without adding much protection. Vanity might also be a factor here for some opponents of the rule change, specifically those flashy wide receivers and defensive backs. Yes, seriously. As the old saying, ungrammatical as it may be, goes: “Look good, feel good, play good.”  

The NFLPA could oppose the rule, but Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, who serves as the chairman of the competition committee, said that since it is a "playing" rule, the NFL can apply it even if the union is against it.

As for the other two changes approved by owners Tuesday, they are subject to a vote by the NFLPA before they are put into effect, though it doesn’t appear that either rule will be greeted with contention by the players.

One rule change would push the league’s trading deadline from Week 6 to Week 8, which could result in more action at the deadline, which is usually pretty uneventful (though there was one notable deal made last season).

Another rule change would affect the NFL’s rules for injured reserve, giving each team one exception to allow a “marquee” player who sustained a significant injury during the season to return later in the season. Currently, once a player is put on injured reserve, he’s a forgotten man for the rest of the season. But if the new rule is approved by the NFLPA, one player placed on injured reserve could return eight weeks after being put on IR.

Some have speculated that the rule change could affect Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who sustained a partial tear of his Achilles tendon late last month. But the proposed injured reserve rule is for players who were on a team’s 53-man roster during the season’s first week and got injured at some point during the regular season.

Since Suggs will be sidelined heading into training camp, it’s most likely that he will start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list, which would allow him to return to the field as early as Week 7. That still gives the Ravens roster flexibility, as any player on the PUP list does not count toward the 53-man roster.

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