Wednesday's NFL: League eliminates preseason OTs, defeats onside kick proposal

Associated Press

NFL owners on Wednesday approved eliminating overtime in preseason games and expanded selection of jersey numbers for receivers, running backs and defensive backs.

The league also will allow on-field officials to get certain “objective information” from the replay official and designated members of the officiating department “when clear and obvious video evidence is present.”

NFL owners approved establishing a maximum number of players in the setup zone (between 10 and 25 yards from the kickoff) in hopes of enhancing onside kick opportunities.

“I know in my opinion what subjective looks like,” said Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and long-time chairman of the powerful competition committee. “And if you get to subjective things in that booth, what is the standard? Do we re-officiate the play?

“In this case, it’s objective (information), there is a way they could assist. We have the technology, really good technology now. Let’s use that technology and try to improve. I do get nervous when it goes beyond that.”

During a virtual meeting, the 32 owners also tabled a proposal by the Philadelphia Eagles that a team be given two chances per game to retain possession after a score by converting a fourth-and-15 play from its 25-yard line. Some owners, general managers and coaches consider that too gimmicky, though they are eager to find a solution to the near-disappearance of the onside kick.

Troy Vincent, a former player who oversees league football operations, senses value in something close to the Eagles’ suggestion.

“I do believe there is some merit, maybe not the fourth-and-15, but the fans want to see the stars with the ball in their hands,” Vincent said. “I think there is something there with that option for the club to be able to get back into the game when down two scores … that could be something I see happening in the future. That is good for the player and it is also good for those watching the game.”

Owners did approve establishing a maximum number of players in the setup zone (between 10 and 25 yards from the kickoff) in hopes of enhancing onside kick opportunities. Defending teams will be limited to nine players in that zone.

“Special teams (committee) suggested a maximum number of people in the setup zone, and for one year only we’ll try that and see what that does to the onside kick numbers,” McKay said.

Also approved were ensuring enforcement of all accepted penalties committed by either team during successive extra-point attempts, and adding a loss of down for a second forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, and for a pass thrown after the ball returns behind the line.

McKay said a point of emphasis this year will be cracking down on taunting on the field. The league found too many potential incidents in 2020.

Increasing available numbers was a matter of necessity, Vincent and McKay explained. With 16 practice players, some of whom can be active on game day, plus retired numbers, teams found themselves in need of more options.

“Frankly, the players themselves like having the options,” Vincent said. “I know it is not what we are accustomed to seeing, someone on the line wearing a single digit, but I think it is fun.”

The league announced that its 2021 schedule, the first with a 17-game regular season, will be released May 12.

Floyd's brother supports Raiders

The brother of George Floyd thanked the Raiders for their support after owner Mark Davis issued a statement on Twitter that drew backlash following the conviction of a police officer who killed Floyd.

Philonise Floyd issued a statement through the family’s attorney on Wednesday, a day after the tweet sent on the team’s official account saying “I CAN BREATHE 4-20-21.”

George Floyd told officers “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times before he was killed when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck last May. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday for causing Floyd’s death.

“On behalf of our family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Las Vegas Raiders organization and its leadership for their support of our family and for our nation’s ongoing pursuit of justice and equality for all,” Philonise Floyd said. “Now, more than ever, we must come together as one and continue on in this fight. For the first time in almost a year, our family has taken a breath. And I know that goes for so many across the nation and globe, as well. Let’s take this breath together in honor of my big brother who couldn’t. Let’s do it for George.”

Extra points

T.J. Ward, the walk-on at Oregon who became a key part of Denver’s famed “No Fly Zone” secondary that helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50, officially announced his retirement.

Ward played eight seasons in the NFL, earning All-Rookie team honors, two trips to the Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors. He last played for the Buccaneers in 2017, although he spent a month with the Cardinals last season.

… Aldon Smith has turned himself in to authorities in Louisiana after an arrest warrant had been issued for the Seahawks defensive end.

The St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s department said Smith was booked on a second degree battery charge Tuesday night. Officials said Smith was released on $25,000 bond. He's scheduled to be arraigned on July 14.

… The 49ers signed free agent running back Wayne Gallman Jr. to a one-year deal.