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NFL approves several big rule changes for 2016 season

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Among the new rules changes is making all forms of a chop block illegal.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is adopting several big rules changes after they were approved by the Competition Committee at the NFL owners meetings in Florida on Tuesday.

Perhaps the biggest change involves the chop block now being completely illegal in the NFL. It's good to finally see a rule change to make the game safer for defensive players after nearly every recent safety rule change to this point has been for offensive players.

A chop blocks occurs when one offensive player blocks a defensive player low while another offensive player blocks the defensive player high. In recent years, the NFL has added more restrictions to cut down on chop blocks, but today the league voted to ban them entirely.

"(Banning the) chop block doesn't necessarily help the defense as much as making offenses adjust and the offensive player go a little further to get the guy blocked without an opportunity to injure a guy," Marvin Lewis said at the NFL meeting via the Cincinnati Enquirer.

But that isn't the only rule change or alteration. Last year, the league approved testing of the PAT moving back to the 15-yard line, but it was just a one-year trial. That rule is now permanent, and the line of scrimmage for PATs will remain at the 15-yard line going forward.

The percentage of made PATs went from 99.4 percent in 2014 to 94 percent in 2015 after NFL kickers missed 71 extra points last season. While the impact isn't huge, it does make extra points a bit more exciting.

A rule proposal passed for the offense was to expand the horse collar rule to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the nameplate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.

Another rule passed that benefits the offense is eliminating the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down.

One rule change that was passed benefiting both the offense and defense was a proposal that now permits the offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staffs to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether they are on the field or in the coaches’ booth.

The NFL has also now made it a foul for delay of game when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so. Marvin Lewis did this in 2014 during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game to try and get the refs to review a play after the two minute warning when he couldn't challenge the call. It worked but going forward, that will be penalized.

The league has also eliminated multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.

One key rule proposal that was not passed, yet, involved ejecting a player for two personal fouls, with the list of eligible infractions including  throwing a punch, a forearm, or kicking; using abusive, threatening, or insulting language; and using baiting or taunting acts.

However, this rule still could be passed at a later date and discussions will continue on the topic this week.