A reader offers a look at the new rules changes for 2012. Use the link over to the right of the page to write your own Fanpost and we may feature it here in the main stream.
With the season a week and half away, it's time to get up to speed on the rule changes for this season so you can look smart.
Rules regarding kickoffs, touchbacks and on-side kicks have changed. There are new rules governing loss of helmet during play and jumping over up-backs on punts. Full details after the jump.
- Kickoffs move to the 35.
Old rule: Kickoffs occurred from 30 yard line.
- 10 players on the kicking team must start no further back than the 30 yard line.
Old rule: No restriction on players' field positioning at start.
- After a touchback on a kickoff, the ball will be put into play at the 25 instead of the 20. All other touchbacks come out to the 20 yard line.
Old rule: All touchbacks came to 20 yard line.
- The receiving team on an onside kick has standard kick-catch and fair-catch protection, even if the ball is kicked into or along the ground and bounces.
Old rule: The receiving team had no protection under standard kick receiving rules.
- If any player's helmet comes off, he must leave the game for the following down unless the helmet comes off as a result of a penalty.
- If it's the ball carrier's helmet: play is immediately whistled dead.
- If it's a player other than the ball carrier: play is not whistled dead, but the player must immediately stop playing - no tackling; no blocking; no route-running. If the player continues for what is deemed 'prolonged participation' it's a 15-yard penalty. The catch: there is no specific definition of 'prolonged,' so it's left to the discretion of the officials.
- Within the last minute of the half or game: if the ball carrier's helmet comes off and it is the only reason why play is whistled dead, there is a 10-second runoff. A team can avoid the runoff if they have and take a time out, but even with a time out, the ball carrier must still sit out a down.
- Players are not permitted to jump over up-blockers when attempting to block punts.
- There's also a change in what is permissible blocking technique within the tackle box, but nobody cares about that anyway.