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Visceral blowback to the NFL's updated rule that players

Date Dec. 5th 06:33 AM Icon 45 Date 0


can't lead with their helmets to make contact is straight out of tough-guy football 101. Hard-hitting defensive backs say the league is destroying the physical element of the game or lament that it's changing the sport entirely."Do they want us to play flag football?" Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said. "It's crazy."Beyond the criticism from old-school players bristling at another rule change or point of emphasis is legitimate confusion as to how the enhanced regulations will actually be enforced. No longer can a player initiate contact with his head anywhere on an opponent's body [url=www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com]Youth La'el Collins Jersey[/url] , penalized 15 yards or possibly by ejection in egregious cases, and players and coaches — offensive guys, too — are bracing for how it will be applied."You just hope it's not called as frequently, because if they are going to call it on every single offensive and defensive lineman, the game is going to be played at a snail's pace," 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said. "It seems like they are neglecting the impact it is going to have on the game, and I don't think they fully understand the scope and how huge it will be."Contact to a player's head and neck has been a penalty for some time now, but this rule was ramped up to take it a step further. A ball carrier or an offensive lineman can't lower his head into a defender, and a defensive player can't make any part of his helmet the primary point of contact when attempting to tackle.It's similar to the NCAA rule that has been in place since 2013, though at the college level, "targeting" carries an automatic ejection, reviewable by replay. The league estimated that just two plays last season would've led to an ejection under the new rule that's forcing players to adjust their approaches."It's really hard to change the way you've been playing after 20 years," Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said. "You're not always thinking about where you're hitting somebody. You're just trying to get them down. As soon as you start thinking, and second-guessing yourself, I think that's when trouble happens. Hopefully it does the job in keeping players safe but doesn't result in a lot of ejections."As the NFL alters this rule and another to kickoffs in the name of safety, some players are willing to accept the reasons for changes. Denver's three-time All-Pro linebacker Von Miller said, "They've put in rules to take care of all the players, as well, so I'm good with all the rule changes."Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he used to fight the evolution of football "like an old dog," but has come to accept changes in the name of doing the right thing for players. He expects there to be a wide application of the enhanced helmet rule and doesn't consider it such a bad thing."I think it's across the board because it can happen multiple times on any play, where guys use the top of their helmet," Carroll said. "We're just getting out of it. It's really about going back to really good shoulder-leverage play."That's how Josh Norman feels about it. The Washington Redskins cornerback knows he has accidentally made helmet contact with opponents, but as a player not known for those plays considers this a reminder about sound fundamentals."Head up, bowed neck, tackle with your facemask," Norman said. "It's not with the crown of your head. Obviously injuries come. People get paralyzed like that. Nobody should play like that."To get the message across [url=www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com]www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com[/url] , coaches Anthony Lynn of the Chargers, Doug Marrone of the Jaguars, Dan Quinn of the Falcons, Mike Vrabel of the Titans and Todd Bowles of the Jets each narrated a clip-by-clip video illustrating how the enhanced rule affects a different position group: running backs , offensive linemen , defensive linemen , linebackers and defensive backs . Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin and linebackers Willie Lanier , also a Hall of Famer, and Willie McGinest taped minute-long videos explaining to players the importance of stance posture and technique to avoid unnecessary head contact.In the first test of the heightened emphasis on head contact, Baltimore linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Kamalei Correa were each flagged for 15-yard penalties in the Hall of Fame game that opened the preseason. Watching that gave Denver coach Vance Joseph a glimpse of what effect the helmet rule will have, pointing out it's not just on players to adjust."Coaching that part, in my opinion, is going to be the tough part — not the defenders," Joseph said. "That's been taught and that's been coached for a long time, with the offensive guys using their stiff arm and putting the ball in the proper hand, using their shoulders versus their head. It's going to take teaching."It's going to take some trial and error in games for players and officials to realize how it will actually be called. Veteran Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander figures it could happen somewhere on the field on any play, so he and his teammates will try to toe the line between watching out for it and not thinking so much that it proves costly."You can't really change your mindset," Buffalo safety Micah Hyde said. "That's when you start playing passive, and you start giving up stuff. I don't know, it's kind of hard to explain, it's kind of when your ankle's hurt, you tape it, you're thinking about it, and then you might hurt something else. It's the same along those lines, you can't really think about it: Just go out there and play football."AP Pro Football Writers Schuyler Dixon, Josh Dubow [url=www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com]Brett Maher Jersey[/url] , Arnie Stapleton and Teresa M. Walker, and Sports Writers Genaro C. Armas, Tim Booth, Dave Ginsburg, Dennis Waszak Jr., John Wawrow and Steven Wine contributed. The Dallas Cowboys had a golden opportunity to come out of the bye and get a much-needed win, and in the process get their season back on track as the NFC East is up for grabs. The addition of Amari Cooper was supposed to be the move that sparked this team for the remainder of the season en route to a playoff run.Alas, here we are: the Cowboys travel to Philadelphia for a divisional battle with the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, and the excitement around this team is all but gone. Can Dallas surprise us all and get a win? Not likely, but stranger things have happened.With all of that said, let’s take a look at how the rookies performed on the Monday night stage versus the Tennessee Titans.Leighton Vander EschLVE has been one of the biggest bright spots of the entire team this season, as the first-rounder has out-performed many of the expectations that were set prior to his debut season on the professional level. His 6-foot-4 and 256-pound frame, along with his killer neck brace, makes him look like a prototypical linebacker as he flies all over the field.Monday was not the rookie’s best game, but Vander Esch still gave the defense nine total tackles on the night, which led the team in the loss to Tennessee. The Boise State Broncos product has a unique ability to bring down ball carriers once he gets his hands on the jersey. In this game, though, he had a few bad angles and missed tackles.Bigger news for the rookie is that All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee once again aggravated his hamstring in the loss, putting him on the sideline for at least the next month, if not longer. With The General not on the field, Vander Esch has an even bigger responsibility. He played well in Lee’s absence earlier this season — is he up for the challenge again?Connor WilliamsWhereas LVE has exceeded expectations, Connor Williams has, for the most part, seemingly failed to meet the hype that he received when he was selected in the second-round. Many fans were hoping that the former Texas Longhorns tackle would be a plug-and-play draft pick for the Cowboys at guard, but that has not happened.To be fair, Williams has had some bright moments — his athleticism has been evident in certain moments [url=www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com]Authentic Antwaun Woods Jersey[/url] , and he has contributed as a run-blocker for Ezekiel Elliott. There is also an adjustment period for rookies, especially for those along the offensive line. It doesn’t help that Travis Frederick isn’t there to help him out, either.This past week, Williams was tasked with protecting Dak Prescott and opening lanes for Zeke against a formidable defensive line. The rookie had his struggles in the pivotal game, but that was not the worst thing for Williams:The rook will be out — and he won’t have to face the task of blocking the likes of Fletcher Cox until a later date.Michael GallupMichael Gallup was drafted to bring explosiveness to this Cowboys offense and give Dak Prescott a legit target with some WR1 potential. Gallup had showed promise, especially in the game versus Washington, but Dallas ultimately made the move to trade for Amari Cooper.The deal gave the Cowboys a good-looking top-3 receiver corps — at least on paper, as the trio of Gallup, Cooper, and Cole Beasley looked to make noise. Would Gallup be able to carry over the momentum that he built prior to the bye week, now with another receiver that would take attention away from him?The rookie turned in a solid game for the Cowboys: three grabs for 51 yards and a 17 yards-per-catch average, including a long of 21 yards. The young receiver has the makings of becoming a reliable playmaker for this offense, which has to be exciting if you are a Cowboys fan.Dorance Armstrong Jr.In my opinion, Dorance Armstrong Jr. has been right there with Mike Gallup and just behind Leighton Vander Esch as far as rookies performances go to this point this season. The fourth-rounder has come on strong while quietly becoming a rotational player for Rod Marinelli’s defensive line.Armstrong has not been a player to blow up the stat-sheet or anything so far, but the Kansas Jayhawks product and Houston native has been a solid contributor from the edge this season. In fact, Monday was Armstrong’s productive game — at least from a pure numbers aspect: two total tackles to go along with a half-sack. Look for Armstrong to continue becoming a solid player along the defensive front for the Cowboys — especially with all of the questions regarding Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton.Dalton SchultzThe Cowboys need a tight end — that is no secret. Geoff Swaim has had a pretty solid season, but there is skepticism about him being the long-term answer at TE for Dallas.Dallas spent a draft pick on Stanford Cardinal tight end Dalton Schultz this past draft in hopes of developing a future replacement for Jason Witten. Over the first half of the season, Schultz rarely saw the field. His only statistic recorded going into the bye? One catch for 12 yards — in the game right before the bye week.With Swaim sidelined, Monday was Schultz’s opportunity to take advantage of a very big opportunity. Instead, Schultz did not make the box score. Some of that may have to do with the offense, with Dak Prescott’s struggles, and everything of that nature, but Schultz certainly missed a big opportunity to show that he could be the future — and maybe the present — at the position.It wasn’t even his lack of catches, either. Schultz struggled as a blocker as well, as Owning points out:Will the rookie begin to improve as Swaim continues to be on the sideline? We will see.

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