NFL owners passed four player safety rules for the 2009 season Tuesday in Dana Point, Calif., and adjusted the calls on the kind of tackle that injured New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the 2008 opener.
Defenders who are knocked to the ground no longer can lunge into quarterbacks if the play is still going on. Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard did just that on the hit that ended Brady's season almost before it began, and NFL officiating director Mike Pereira placed such plays in the player safety category.
"We're trying to make the game safer for the guy getting hit and the guy doing the hitting," said Pereira, who plans to retire this year.
That adjustment was not a rule change and did not require an owners vote. But four other rules were adopted by the 32 teams:
* The initial force of a blindside block can't be delivered by a helmet, forearm or shoulder to an opponent's head or neck. An illegal blindside block will bring a 15-yard penalty.
* Initial contact to the head of a defenseless receiver also will draw a 15-yard penalty.
"Our clear movement is to getting out of the striking in the head area," Pereira said. "We're reading about injuries that say spinal and vertebrae. We've got to try something."
* On kickoffs, no blocking wedge of more than two players will be allowed.
* Also on kickoffs, the kicking team can't have more than five players bunched together pursuing an onside kick.
Browns: : Brady Quinn or former Raven Derek Anderson? Eric Mangini isn't sure, so he's throwing the starting quarterback job into a free-for-all. "I don't have a projected starter at this point," Mangini said at the NFL meetings. "What we're going to do is we'll have an open competition." Anderson, coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2007, opened last year as the starter. As the Browns struggled, he was benched for Quinn. Both quarterbacks subsequently were injured, and Mangini replaced Romeo Crennel as coach after Cleveland finished 4-12. "I'm excited about both of them," he said of Quinn, heading into his third season, and Anderson, who will be in his fifth.
More Browns: : A Miami Beach, Fla., police report shows a pedestrian wasn't in a crosswalk when wide receiver Donte' Stallworth hit and killed him with his Bentley. An accident report also says Stallworth told officers he flashed his lights to try to warn Mario Reyes, 59, who was rushing to catch a bus just after 7 a.m. Police say Stallworth was going about 50 mph in a 40 mph zone. Police are investigating whether alcohol played a role in the March 14 accident that killed Reyes. No charges have been filed against Stallworth pending the outcome of blood tests. :