NFL owners unanimously approved three rule changes for next season on Tuesday morning that all relate to player safety.
Back in March, four rules were passed that ranged from changing the starting spot on kickoffs to amending instant replay. The three rule changes passed at the owners' meetings on Tuesday in Indianapolis were originally discussed back in March as one big rule proposal. However, that rule proposal was tabled because it needed to be simplified and that's why it was broken down into three different rules.
The first rule change is in regards to the definition of what is a defenseless player. The umbrella of a defenseless player is now expanded to players who are "clearly not a runner yet" (meaning DeSean Jackson against Atlanta last season), kickers and punters during returns (yes, you Sav Rocca vs. Antwan Barnes back in 2007) and quarterbacks after a change of possession (turnovers for example).
The second rule change creates an explicit definition of what launching is. Launching is when a player leaves his feet prior to contact to spring forward into an opponent or uses any part of his helmet. Needless to say, launching is not allowed in the NFL.
Last, but not least, is the rule change that will make Cole happy. Last year against the Colts, Cole accidentally made contact with quarterback Peyton Manning's helmet as he went it for a sack and was called for a roughing the passer penalty. Even though replays showed there was no malicious intent, there was no gray area when it came to the rule. Well, now there is. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe tweeted that the third rule change states only "forcible blows" to the head of a quarterback will be penalized.