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New NFL rules: Ban on peel-back blocks will make line play safer

Editor's note: This is a closer look at one of four player health and safety-related rules that are new to this NFL season, which begins Thursday.

NEW RULE: A ban of "peel-back" blocks inside the tackle-box area.

What the rule changes: A 15-yard penalty will be called on a player who is aligned in the tackle box when the ball is snapped, then moves to a position outside the box and initiates contact on the side and below the waist against an opponent if: (a) the blocker is moving toward his own end line; and (b) he approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.

Why the change was made: This is known as the Brian Cushing Rule. The Houston Texans linebacker suffered a season-ending knee injury last year on a peel-back or chop block. The rule makes most chop blocks illegal.

How it would impact player health and safety: At least inside the tackle box, no player will be legally caught off guard with a low block that could cause serious injuries to his legs.

What they said about it upon passing: "Defensive players that can't see the block coming so they couldn't defend themselves, we're taking that dangerous play out. And offensive linemen were taking gratuitous shots." -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh to USA Today.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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