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Carolina Panthers

NFL approves player-friendly rules changes


More celebrations. Maybe more ties. More opportunities for injured players and for roster hopefuls.

Several changes considered by the NFL two months ago at the league's annual meeting have been approved at the Spring League Meeting in Chicago.

Commissioner Roger Goddell sent a letter to fans Tuesday that highlighted touchdown celebrations that won't be flagged next season, a decision aimed at delivering "a more exciting game experience." In addition, owners approved the shortening of overtime in regular season games from 15 minutes to 10; the ability for teams to return a second player from injured reserve to the field of play; and the elimination of one round of preseason roster cuts.

Goddell's letter detailed three examples of celebrations that won't be penalized in 2017, using a Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess celebration of a Week 2 touchdown from last season as an example of a now-permitted group celebration. Using the football as a prop on a touchdown and celebrating on the ground (think "snow angel") as will be permitted as the league works to "allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays."

Owners, in a move motivated by player safety, voted to reduce overtime by five minutes, a change that could create more ties but could also lessen concerns about players overexerting themselves in overtime – particularly, for example, before turning around and playing a Thursday night game.

The league also agreed to allow teams to designate a second player to return from injured reserve over the course of a given season. Since 2012, teams have been permitted to return one player placed on IR to the 53-man roster as early as eight weeks after he was placed there.

Owners also agreed to eliminate the trimming of the roster from 90 players to 75 prior to the final preseason game. Instead, teams will have just one cutdown day, going from 90 to their 53-man regular season roster in the days leading up to Week 1.

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