RICHMOND—Officials worked Thursday morning’s practice at Redskins training camp and, afterward, referee Terry McAulay sat down with reporters and explained the new rules and points of emphasis for the 2014 NFL season.
Here are some highlights from McAulay’s presentation:
- Zero tolerance for verbal abuse: Players will be assessed an unsportsmanlike penalty if they verbally abuse an opponent. Officials will be especially attuned to comments related to race or sexual orientation. “If we’re walking by and we hear a certain vulgarity that are part of that chatter, we’ll talk to them,” McAulay said. “When it reaches a certain point, they’ve crossed the line and it will result in a penalty.” Officials will be held to the same standard. The Redskins were involved in an interesting situation last season when a game official was suspended for directing “profane and derogatory” language at Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.
- Some replays will be conducted with input from NFL headquarters in New York. League officials Dean Blandino and Alberto Riveron will review plays that are in question and communicate with the referee at the stadium via an earpiece. “In the end, it’s never going to be 100 percent,” McAulay. “But the addition of another set of eyes should help us with consistency.” McAulay said referees will have the final say.
- “Roll up” blocks: These types of low blocks were already illegal from behind. Now they are illegal from the side, too.
- Contact initiated by defenders on receivers after five yards will be eyed more closely.
- Pushing off by wide receivers at the top of their routes will be scrutinized.
- Quick and/or abrupt movements by offensive linemen before the snap will also be watched more closely.
- Officials will more vigorously enforce the knee and thigh pad mandates that were put on the books last year.
McAulay and his crew of officials will meet with Coach Jay Gruden and the players on Thursday night to make the same presentation. Gruden said he intends to seek some clarity on rules regarding illegal contact on receivers by defenders after the referees called several penalties on the Redskins' cornerbacks during 11-on-11 drills earlier in the day.
"They threw a couple of flags out there were a little questionable in my opinion," Gruden said. "I'm an offensive guy, but holy cow we can't have a flag on every play. We have to police it as far as our DBs are concerned. There were a couple today that there's no way they should have been flags. But they were."