NFL owners approved a rule change Wednesday that expands the area where a 15-yard penalty for blocking below the waist can be called by officials.
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network provided the updated rule:
The NFL had tabled the proposal earlier in the year but the owners circled back to approve the change ahead of the 2021 season, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk.
Calls related to blocking below the waist can now be made outside of the tight end box—five yards on each side of the line scrimmage and two yards from the edge of each offensive tackle—aside from a few exceptions related to players trying to make a play on the ball.
Penalties can be called against both offensive and defensive players.
The change is meant toward better protecting players from lower-body injuries, including those related to the knees that can be severe and lead to extended periods out of the lineup.
Teams and players will get their first look at the rule change during the preseason.
Other NFL rule changes for the 2021 campaign include increased use of replay officials, more flexibility in terms of numbers, some of which have already been utilized by skill-position players, and further adjustments to the onside kick rules.