By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — There will be no assist from the replay booth when it comes to the NFL’s roughing the passer rule.
The league’s 32 teams declined to adopt a proposal from the Los Angeles Rams that would have allowed coaches to ask for a replay booth review of the often-controversial call. It was one of several potential changes discussed at the league’s annual meetings on Tuesday.
Rich McKay — the NFL’s Competition Committee chairman — said the league’s brief 2019 experiment that allowed replay booth review of pass interference calls weighed heavily in the process. The rule was reversed in 2020 and highlighted the tricky nature of reviewing judgment calls on the field.
“There are a lot of issues that go into it,” said McKay, who is also the Atlanta Falcons CEO. “It is a dramatic and almost drastic change of officiating, taking it from the field, up to the booth.
“It wasn’t a long discussion and then we voted and it did not pass.”
The list of changes on Tuesday was relatively minor. Among them: Tightening rules on helmet blows by eliminating the “butt, ram, spear” language that McKay said allowed several players to escape fines.
Also, most NFL players now have a new choice when selecting their jersey number — zero.
All players — excluding offensive and defensive linemen — can now select No. 0 if they choose.
Offensive linemen are still limited to the numbers between 50 and 79 while defensive linemen can select any number from 50 to 79 or 90 to 99.
New Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley announced he would be among those who would wear No. 0 next season.
One of the more interesting rules suggestions was tabled. The Eagles had submitted a proposal that would permit a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play — a fourth-and-20 attempt from the kicking team’s 20-yard line — in lieu of an onside kickoff attempt.
“There’s not an appetite, yet, to have the onside kick go away,” McKay said. “I think what people would rather talk about is ways to get the rate of recovery up.”
McKay said that historically, onside kicks have about a 13-14% success rate, but that number was down to 4% during the 2022 season.
Also of note: The use of the guardian cap — a padded addition that fits over a regular football helmet — will be expanded during the preseason to include running backs and fullbacks. Last season, offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends used the cap.
The cap’s use will also be expanded to the regular season during practices that include contact.
Jeff Miller — the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Communications — said concussions were down 52% for the position groups that used the cap last season when compared to the previous three-year average of the same groups.
LAFLEUR PREACHES PATIENCE
Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur is preaching patience as he prepares for the likelihood of having Jordan Love rather than Aaron Rodgers as his starting quarterback.
Rodgers, 39, has indicated he intends to play for the New York Jets in 2023. Although Rodgers remains under contract with Green Bay, the Packers and Jets are negotiating on a potential trade that would send the four-time MVP to New York.
That would cause the Packers to turn to Love, who has made just one career start since the Packers traded up to select him out of Utah State with the 26th overall pick in the 2020 draft. LaFleur cited Love’s inexperience Tuesday while telling reporters that “we’ve all got to kind of temper our expectations for him.”
“Certainly I think we’re fooling ourselves if we think he’s going to go out there and perform at a level to the likes of what Aaron Rodgers (has done),” LaFleur said. “This guy is a once-in-a-lifetime, a generational talent. And I don’t think it necessarily started that way when he first started, you know. But he progressed into that. Like I said, it’s going to be a progression.
“Hopefully we can surround him with enough people to help him perform at the best of his ability, and then we’ve got to do a great job as a coaching staff.”
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee contributed to this report.
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