Around the Pound (2/21): NFL Rule Changes to Protect Players

In today's edition of Around the Pound, we take a look at some of the proposed NFL rule changes, Terry Pluto's weekly digest on the Browns, some insight as to why the Ravens went after WR Donte Stallworth, and more.

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NFL Considering Rule Changes for Player Protection

These rule changes have been discussed before, but the Washington Post highlighted them again on Saturday. The primary objective of the proposed rule changes would be to limit the rate and severity of concussions. Here is a bullet point summary of the article...

  • There could be a "reduction by 20 to 25 percent in the number of practices with collisions between players being permitted." I assume that would include training camp. That would make it seem like the team would be reverting back to the Romeo Crennel days in which he refrained from players being in pads until quite awhile into the start of camp.
  • There could be a ban on helmet-to-helmet hits on all ball carriers. Currently, the rule only applies to quarterbacks and defenseless receivers. A rule change would mean that if a running back is running forward and you pop him right in the head, the penalty marker would be thrown. I think there's be too much variability with that rule; half of the running backs in the league lower their own heads into an oncoming defender.
  • The league might permit roster exemptions for players recovering from concussions. I fully support this rule -- it would prevent teams from jumping-the-gun and placing someone on the injured reserve just because they have a concussion. At the same time, if a player has a minor concussion, a team can feel more comfortable in resting them a week or so if they know they can get someone to temporarily take their roster spot.
  • There is still consideration for a ban on the three-point stance.

The first three rule changes could be implemented as soon as next season, but the last one probably would not be put into place just yet.

Donte Stallworth: A Series One-Year Wonders

Throughout his career, WR Donte Stallworth has made his success off of being a one-year wonder for multiple teams. He had a great year in New Orleans in 2005. In 2006, he was solid for Philadelphia. In 2007, he wasn't bad for New England. Then, with the Browns in 2008, Stallworth received a big-time contract which included $10 million guaranteed. We got nothing in return for that $10 million except for anguish.

Because of Stallworth's baggage and one-year absence, the Ravens were able to take a shot at Stallworth for a much cheaper price ($900,000), and odds are that he will quadruple his production from his reign with the Browns.

The Ravens are hoping Stallworth is a new man who still has playmaking abilities. They’re in desperate need of a No. 3 receiver and, in the back of their minds, they might be hoping that the 28-year-old Stallworth can push Mark Clayton for a starting job.

More on the Browns Special Teams

In the offseason, it's been fun to reflect back on the Browns' special teams. That's what Terry Pluto did in his Sunday column after interviewing Browns special teams coach Brad Seely. Seely had nothing but praise for his players, including snapper Ryan Pontbriand:

"He really is an all-pro long snapper. Nearly every snap is exactly where you want it, directly on the punter's hip so he can just catch the ball and punt it with no wasted motion. He also is a very good blocker. We want our punts to take no more than 2.3 seconds from snap to kick, and we hit it nearly every time. Ryan has good velocity on his snaps, as well as accuracy."

Seely did point out the unit's one downfall: when Pontbriand's snap bounced off of S Nick Sorensen and was recovered in the end zone by the Kansas City Chiefs for a touchdown. Maybe I missed the explanation the first time around, but Seely claims that Pontbriand snapped the ball prematurely because he thought he caught the Chiefs with 12-men on the field. Check out Pluto's piece for more of Seely's praise for players like Joshua Cribbs, Phil Dawson, and Alex Hall.

Praise for rufio's Breakdown

Over at our Indianapolis Colts blog, Stampede Blue, there is praise for rufio's breakdown of Tracy Porter's pick six of Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.

At first glance you are like, "What the hell? Another dumb post about this friggin' interception!" Then, after a closer look, you see that the story is not yet another misguided hate post from a writer dancing with manic glee at the fact that Peyton Manning lost a Super Bowl. Instead, we get a story that provides us with what many other stories from supposedly better writers have not: Insight.

UPDATE: There is some praise over at Canal Street Chronicles too, our New Orleans Saints blog.

Off-Beat Notes

  • Since trading C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 0-3. I don't really have any sense of panic or anything, especially considering the fact that we will probably get Ilgauskas back. Nonetheless, you hate to see your team go on a three-game losing streak to start off the second stretch of the season.
  • I haven't mentioned the Winter Olympics yet, but they've been pretty fun to watch due to the likes of Apolo Ohno and Shaun White, among others. I think I could do a Double McTwist 1260 if I had to.
  • You have to love the cycle of Cleveland weather. The last time the snow finally melted, it all came back immediately. The snow has started to melt again the past two days (with temperatures reaching the 40's today). In the forecast for the coming days? Freezing rain.
  • You can now follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dawgsbynature
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