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NFL Announces Rule, Bylaw Changes for 2020 Season


EAGAN, Minn. — NFL teams can now designate three players to return from Injured Reserve, an increase from the 2019 limit of two, the league announced Thursday.

That bylaw change was one of four bylaw or rule changes that were announced as part of the league's Annual Spring Meeting, which was attended virtually this year by NFL owners.

The Vikings placed six players on Injured Reserve during the 2019 season, but only one — wide receiver Josh Doctson — returned to the active roster.

A trio of other rule changes were also approved by owners.

Scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul are now subject to automatic replay review, while defenseless player protection on kick and punt returns was also expanded.

Teams now cannot manipulate the game clock with multiple dead-ball fouls, a loophole in the rule book that numerous teams utilized late in games in 2019.

Perhaps the most-buzzworthy proposal was tabled, as owners decided they needed more information on a 4th-and-15 scenario that was suggested as an alternative to the onside kick.

In this situation, a scoring team team could choose to attempt a 4th-and-15 at their own 25-yard line. If successful, they would keep possession as if they had recovered an onside kick.

Teams could try that scenario a maximum of twice per game, regardless if they were trailing on the scoreboard or not. If the try failed, the opposing team would then take over at the 25-yard line.

The NFL changed its kickoff rules in 2018 and stated that only five players are allowed on each side of the ball. This has limited teams from overloading one side of the ball to try and recover an onside kick.

According to ESPN NFL reporter Kevin Seifert, teams recovered 10.5 percent of onside kicks in 2018 and 2019, compared to 16.3 percent from 2013-2017.