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Dean Blandino says 17 fouls a game called during season's first week

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Friday penalties were down from the preseason, but still averaged about 17 a game during Week 1 of the 2014 regular season.

"We were just under 17 total fouls (per game for Week 1)," Blandino said during his weekly officiating review video for the media. "Accepted fouls were roughly at 14.2 or 14.3 (a game)"

"Those numbers are up from the regular season last year. The points of emphasis have not changed. We tweaked some things during the preseason as we've seen how our officials are officiating these plays. Certainly the players have adjusted. Fouls are up on the points of emphasis areas, but certainly not up as high as they were during the preseason."

The points of emphasis this season are defensive contact beyond 5 yards, holding or grabbing of the jersey by defenders, offensive pass interference and illegal use of hands to the face by linemen.

Blandino talked about a tackle that looked like a horse-collar move during last Sunday's Philadelphia-Jacksonville game.

"This was not a foul for a 'horse collar' because (the tackler's hand) is not inside the collar," he said. "This is something the competition committee has looked at in the past and will continue to look at whether this type of action -- when it's just the hand on the jersey -- should be a foul."

He also addressed Cam Newton's illegal visit to the Carolina Panthers' huddle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton, who was deactivated and dressed in street clothes, visited the Panthers huddle during a first-half timeout to talk to the offense.

The referee did not penalize the Panthers, but gave Carolina coach Ron Rivera a warning.

"During a timeout, all the playing rules remain in force," Blandino said. "Unless you're an incoming substitute, you can't come onto the field of play. This is not legal."

Blandino said he endorsed the referee's discretionary call, but all NFL teams have been warned about personnel, besides a trainer or a coach coming on the playing field during timeouts.

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