Referee Ed Hochuli and members of his officiating crew are at Packers training camp this week to explain the rule changes and points of emphasis for the 2014 season. The officials were at Thursday’s practice and will remain in Green Bay through Saturday’s Family Night practice.
Players on the practice field could be seen discussing some of the flags thrown by officials on Thursday, and the communication and dialogue is something Head Coach Mike McCarthy calls “a healthy process.”
Hochuli and his crew members also met with the media on Thursday and outlined the rule changes and points of emphasis. Here’s a summary:
–Offensive players rolling up on the side of a defender’s legs to throw a cut block will now be called for clipping. Previously, only the back of a defender’s legs were protected.
–The game clock will no longer stop on a sack that is outside of two minutes in either half.
–The replay review process will include consultation with senior league officials at NFL headquarters, who will be monitoring all games in real time. Also, the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play is now reviewable.
–Dunking the ball over the goal post will now be an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Points of emphasis
–Hands to the face will not need to be prolonged or pinning the opponent’s head back in order to be a penalty. Any forcible contact to an opponent’s face can be considered a penalty.
–Any abrupt movements by offensive linemen are subject to a false start call, such as a center looking between his legs before a shotgun snap and then jerking his head back into the upright position. Movements that are smooth and not sudden will still be considered legal.
–Illegal contact and defensive holding will be watched more closely. Contact with a receiver beyond the 5-yard bump zone with the QB in the pocket will be deemed illegal contact, with less leeway on the 5-yard zone than in the past. Even the slightest restriction that results from grabbing a receiver or his jersey is likely to be called defensive holding. On the offensive side, players blocking more than one yard downfield, such as on a screen pass or quick flip to the flat, before the pass is touched by a receiver will be called for offensive pass interference.
“Those are all rules we’ve tightened up,” Hochuli said. “I expect there will be more fouls early in the season, but I think the players will adjust.”
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