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Shanahan: Rule Changes Safety-Oriented

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A team of NFL officials have been in town for the last three days, offering explanations of the rule and interpretation changes for the 2013 season.

After meeting with the officials, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said he is satisfied that the rule changes will not affect that Redskins much this season.

"We just go through the rules, kind of go over the rules, things that are pertinent to our football team," Shanahan said. "I thought the officials did a great of talking about some of the new rules and clarifying some of the questions that we did have."

Following up the helmet-to-helmet enforcement in recent years, the league is now prepared to flag offensive players who line up a target and initiate the helmet-to-helmet force.

Shanahan explained that these plays are few and far between, and the rule change was made in the name of player safety at the pro and amateur levels.

"The rule is right now if a running back is going against a defensive player and he just puts his head down like a battering ram, they are going to call it," he explained. "It's got to be low. If it's on any type of angle, they are not going to call it.

"It doesn't occur very many times, but if it does, the NFL is not only discouraging our players to lower the helmet. We're trying to help the high schools and colleges as well as a point of emphasis.

"We're trying to make our game safe and that is one of the reasons or one of the rules they put in."

Another question the Redskins sought clarification on was the rules concerning quarterbacks diving vs. sliding.

Last season, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion in Week 5 on a play in which he dove instead of slid. He also suffered his original knee injury in Week 14 on a dive against the Baltimore Ravens.

After a discussion with the officials staff, there should be no misunderstanding of the rules this year.

"Sliding is very basic," Shanahan said. "The rules haven't been changed, we just have clarifications with quarterback keeps off our bootleg or the option play, what's allowed by defensive players, what's allowed by offensive players.

"So we clarified it on both sides of the ball."

One of the more controversial rules being stricken from the rulebook this year is the infamous "Tuck Rule," which has affected the outcome of many football games over the last decade.

Instead of a quarterback being able to pump fake and have a fumble called an incomplete pass, the official will now be able to determine that the quarterback had no intention of throwing the ball, and a loose ball is probably a fumble.

Shanahan did not mince words with his feelings on the rule finally being stricken.

"The tuck rule should have been changed 10 years ago," he said. "A fumble is a fumble and I am glad it has changed."

In addition to meeting with players and the media, the officials were able a useful reference on the sideline during practice, as players and coaches consulted them during live action.

"I think it's great for the officials to come in for three or four days to get a chance to go over the new rules," Shanahan said. "They'll talk to players during practice when they feel there is some type of foul does occur.

"They don't stop play but they inform the player. It may be a shift, it may be alignment, it may be hands to the face, maybe a holding call – all the things that occur during games.

"We had a great referee, a great crew to help us, and they've got another day with us tomorrow."

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