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Onside kick alternative tweaked again, now an untimed down

The NFL continues to tweak the fourth-and-15 onside kick alternative rule ahead of Thursday's virtual league meeting.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero noted the updated language for the kickoff alternative clarified that the attempt can just be exercised in regulation, not overtime, and that the down is untimed.

The new language noted that a team can only change its decision once an alternative kick is elected by using a timeout before the referee signals ready for play, and also clarified where the ball would be spotted if a penalty occurred during the preceding score.

Making the play an untimed down wipes out a potential unintended consequence that could have allowed a team to burn the remaining seconds off the clock after a score late in a contest.

Noting that a 15-yard penalty during a scoring play could give a club a chance to go for a fourth-and-15 from its own 40 as opposed to the 25 would give coaches something to consider in that circumstance outside of end-of-game-scenarios. The risk of giving the ball to an opponent in scoring position on the 25-yard-line could persuade coaches to use their two shots sparingly. Taking that snap from the 40-yard-line is a much different scenario.

NFL owners are expected to vote on the proposed new rule during Thursday's virtual meeting. All proposals must be approved by 75 percent (24) of the owners to be adopted.

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