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NFL Passes Automatic Ejection Rule and Change to Touchbacks

NFL owners approved two more rule changes Wednesday, though both will be on a one-year trial basis for 2016.

A day after league owners approved seven rule changes, including the elimination of the chop block, two more changes were agreed upon Wednesday at the annual league meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, though both changes are on one-year trial basis for 2016.

In 2016, any player flagged for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game will be ejected. Two 15-yard personal fouls, however, will not lead to an automatic ejection. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who was recently voted onto the NFLPA's executive committee, has expressed concern about that rule change, and Pete Carroll told the NFL Network Tuesday that the Seahawks voted against the change.

"We voted against that," Carroll said. "I don't think that we need more ways to throw guys out of games. It's such a big decision and it's already in the game, the officials can do what they need to do anyway, I don't know why we need another additional way to do it. There was just enough discussion and cause for a little uncertainty in there that we didn't want to go for it."

The other rule change made Wednesday was to move the spot on a touchback from the 20 to the 25-yard line, a rule designed to improve player safety. The reasoning behind the change is that kickoff returns are one of the most violent plays in the game, and by moving the touchback spot to the 25-yard line, returners would have more incentive to take a knee on kickoffs into the end zone rather than return them.

Also new in 2016 will be a change to the league's injured reserve/designated to return rule. While teams can still only bring one player back from injured reserve, and that player will still have to be out at least six weeks, teams no longer have to declare a player as designated to return ahead of time. So any player who is placed on injured reserve is eligible to return until a team has used that designation.


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