Early rules meetings focus on replay, sideline of future, more

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Weeks before the NFL’s owners vote on potential rule changes for the coming season, the process commences with meetings at the Scouting Combine.  NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent provided on Monday a preview of the topics that could generate new or revised rules.

Calling it an “important week for making football better” on Twitter, Vincent said he’ll meet with coaches and the Competition Committee.  The subjects include instant replay, the “sideline of the future,” officiating, and “ways to better protect players from unnecessary risk.”

The replay process has become an annual source of consternation and discussion.  Coaches like Bill Belichick believe that the red challenge flag should be available for any and all purposes; as long as indisputable visual evidence exists to overturn a ruling on the field, the coach should be able to request a second look with one of the two (three if the first two are used properly) attempts to overturn a ruling on the field.

The sideline of the future likely consists of expanded use of tablet technology, with video possibly augmenting in-game strategizing.  And maybe flying cars.

Officiating also has become a year-in, year-out focal point, with the NFL looking for ways to improve performance without making all officials full-time employees.

For some changes, the union will have a voice.  Especially if attempts to protect players from unnecessary risk exposes other players to enhanced penalties for exposing coworkers to enhanced risk.