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NFL owners approve expanded rule on low blocks, 90-man rosters to start training camp

In an effort to increase player safety, NFL owners approved a change to the league's low block rule.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the league has given the thumbs up on a proposal first brought by the competition committee that expands prohibition against blocking below the waist. The approved proposal illegalizes blocking below the waist by offensive and defensive players on scrimmage downs when contact occurs beyond five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage and more than two yards outside of either offensive tackle.

The league had previously outlawed blocks below the waist by players of either team after a change of possession or during kicks. This update expands the rule to scrimmage downs, leaving the aforementioned rectangle of pre-snap space as the last real estate in which blocks below the waist are permitted.

This change follows many in the last half-decade or so to improve player safety. The NFL updated its rules to eliminate dangerous blocks inside the tackle box (i.e., the chop block) around the middle of the last decade, and has steadily enhanced its safety measures in the years that followed with the removal of other dangerous blocks, such as crack-back and peel-back blocks.

This means we'll see fewer low blocks in the years ahead as the NFL leads the way in making the game safer for all.

The league owners also approved on Wednesday a 90-man roster to start training camp this year, Pelissero added. Rosters must be cut down to 85 players by Aug. 17, 80 players by Aug. 24 and 53 players by Aug. 31.

Last season, because of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, teams opened camp with 80 players, 10 fewer than allowed this year.

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