NFL owners shied away from making a quirky rules change Thursday, opting instead to table the discussion of creating an alternative to onside kicks.
The owners, who convened via teleconference, approved four less conspicuous changes to the game:
-- Automatic replay reviews have been expanded to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, as well as any successful or unsuccessful "try" attempt.
-- Defenseless player protection now will include a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but has not had sufficient time to avoid or ward off impending contact with an opponent.
-- Teams can no longer manipulate the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.
-- The number of players who can return from injured reserve during the season has been increased from two to three.
The alternative to the onside kick was to give teams the option to attempt a fourth-and-15 from their 25. Owners decided to continue that discussion at a later time.
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