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With New Helmet Radio, Fletcher Can Talk the Talk

When London Fletcher ran out on to the field on Thursday night, he had Greg Blache in his ear.

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That's because his helmet came equipped with a new communications transmitter.

This year, Fletcher will be able to talk directly with Blache before plays, just like the quarterback talks to an offensive coach before plays.

"We worked out the kinks in preseason games, and I'm feeling real comfortable with the system," Fletcher said.

It's one of six prominent new rule changes for the 2008 season.

Before every game this season, defensive coaches must designate two players to wear the helmet transmitter. The second helmet must be stored away in a secured trunk and used only if there is an injury or a malfunction.

At no time can both players with the communications device be on the field at the same time.

Overall, Fletcher likes the helmet communications system.

It will help "level the playing field" so that players on both sides of the ball will be able to receive direction from coaches on the sidelines, he said.

"At the end of the day, you just want to make the call, get lined up and play football," he added.

Here are some other rule changes to keep an eye on as the NFL kicks off the 2008 season:

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-- Force-out Rule

The force-out rule has been eliminated. A player who receives or intercepts a ball must land with both feed inbounds.

This affords the receiver and defender equal opportunity to catch the ball.

-- Incidental Facemask

The foul for incidental grasp and release of the facemask has been eliminated.

With the elimination of this foul, the league will make a point of emphasis on grasping of the facemask, particularly those players who twist, turn or pull the facemask.

The action is a personal foul and 15-yard penalty.

-- Reviewable Plays

Instant reply will expand to include illegal forward handoffs, field goal attempts and extra point attempts.

This provides a mechanism for correcting an obvious on-field officiating error.

-- Muffed Snap

It will now be a live ball when a direct snap from center to a player who is in position to receive a hand-to-hand snap goes untouched.

It was previously called a false start, but now either team may recover and advance the untouched snap.

-- Second Half Coin Toss

Clubs will not have the option to defer the opportunity to kick or receive the kickoff to the second half.

It gives coaches another option to start either half with their offense or defense on the field.

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