It added a new qualification for defenseless player protection, part of the league's larger effort to minimize the chances for injury-producing contact.
At about the same time, NFL owners enhanced their discipline policy to encourage officials to eject, or the league office to suspend, players for particularly violent or flagrant hits to the head or neck area -- even on a first offense.
Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire Referee Walt Coleman's crew did not penalize Burfict for the hit, but the league office reviews every play of every game, even in the preseason, for potential fines and other discipline.
Although there has been no formal announcement, the defenseless player protection rule -- and the new emphasis on ejections and suspensions for dangerous hits -- each appear to be part of the explanation.
As I noted Sunday night , the NFL rule book spells out three types of contact that are illegal against a defenseless player:
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