Peterson learns lessons from video on rules

Adrian Peterson said the NFL must have picked out his worst example of lowering the helmet, but he admits he got some insight on a new rule that could affect his running style. NFL officials visited the Vikings this week and talked about the rules changes.

Adrian Peterson can rest fairly easy, despite being made an example of in an NFL video demonstrating rules changes for 2013

The Minnesota Vikings star running back and NFL MVP was one of two examples of a running back lowering the crown of his helmet before impact in an NFL officiating video shown to players across the league to demonstrate new rules.

"I knew that I ducked my head and used my crown a lot, but the example they had, they must have picked the worst one because I had my head all the way down," Peterson said. "You probably would have thought I would get hit in the back of my neck, that's how far it was down. … That (rule) right there was new, but they've been talking about it all offseason."

NFL officials visited all 32 training camps over the last three weeks to show the video discussing new rules and talk about the rules changes with players and coaches. The Vikings' visit was Monday night.

"We got some good insight on some of the new rules and there was a lot of questions asked," Peterson said.

The two examples of running backs in the league video were Cleveland's Trent Richardson lowering his helmet into a Philadelphia safety, whose helmet was already starting to come off before Richardson's helmet made contact with it, and Peterson lowering the crown of his helmet into a Chicago safety.

The new rule states three things must happen before a player would be penalized for lowering the crown of his helmet. He must be outside of a box extending from the tackles horizontally and from the backfield and three yards past the line of scrimmage vertically, he must line up the opponent directly and then tip the head to lead with the crown of the helmet with a "forcible blow."

If the players make contact at an angle or lead with the shoulder pad, the hit would be legal.

"If you see the head go down and the top of the head into that defender, if it's forceful then we'll call it," umpire Roy Ellison said.

The four officials visiting the Vikings this week agreed that the foul won't be called unless it was an obvious infraction in which all three criteria were met. They also didn't think it would have been called much last year if that rule was in effect.

Peterson said he would try to adjust his approach on those plays and it seemed to open his eyes about how much his head was lowered on the play the league spotlighted.

"How I'm going to try to attack it is just keep my head up at all times and not lower my head, not only because I could hurt someone else but because I could hurt myself as well," he said.

"It's going to be something to adjust to. When I saw that play (Monday) night, you can sense how bad it could have been if I would have got hit the wrong way."

Other rules changes:

  • Defenses can't have more than six players on either side of the snapper when the ball is snapped on field goal and extra points tries. That would be a 5-yard penalty for illegal formation.

  • Defensive players pushing down-linemen into the offensive formation on kicks, and low blocks by defensive players on punts, field goals and extra points will also result in a 15-yard penalty.

  • Long snappers will receive all the protections of defenseless players – they can't be contacted in the head before they become active blockers. Direct blows to the long snapper before he becomes a blocker will be a 15-yard penalty.

  • The illegal nature of a peelback block has been extended to anywhere on the field, including the area inside the tackle box.

  • All players except kickers and punters will be required to wear thigh and knee pads. A first infraction will result in a 5-yard penalty. An attempt to re-enter the game without those pads will result in ejection.

  • A modification in the "tuck rule" by the quarterback. Any loss of control after the passer attempts to tuck the ball back to his body will be a fumble. Previously it was a pass until he tucked the ball all the way back to his body. Now, once the throwing motion is ceased, it will be a fumble instead of an incompletion.

  • If a coach challenges a scoring play, turnover or a play that started inside the two-minute warning of either half or during overtime, that team will be charged a timeout. If the team is out of timeouts, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty, but the play can still be reviewed by the replay official and mistakes can be corrected. Previously, it couldn't be reviewed if a coach challenged one of those plays that is automatically reviewed.

    "The rule was if the coach threw flag, the play couldn't be reviewed," side judge Laird Hayes said. "Well, how unfair is that? No one had thought about that as a possibility, so that is why that rule has been changed. He'll still be penalized if he doesn't have a timeout left – he'll still be penalized 15 yards – but the play will be reviewed."

    Ellison said officials tell coaches all the time that if there is a score or change of possession, they shouldn't throw the flag until they talk to an official, but he admitted the emotion of the game sometimes gets in the way of that decision.

    The officials don't have input on the rules changes. Those decisions are made by the competition committee with input from the league office.

    The four officials visiting the Vikings were on the field making calls during practices earlier this week, which they said is good practice for them because the NFL expects a high level of officiating at the outset of the preseason.

    And it's clear the officials enjoy their jobs.

    "A bad day of officiating is better than a good day at work," Ellison said.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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