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

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.