NFL to try two possible rule changes at Pro Bowl, including onside kick alternative

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor

While we question the wisdom of introducing potential new rules when some NFL officials seem to have a difficult time remembering how to enforce existing ones (pass interference anyone?), the league will experiment with some during this weekend’s Pro Bowl game.

Fourth-and-15 alternative

On Tuesday, NFL Officiating tweeted explainers for the two rule changes.

The first offers an alternative to the onside kick, and allows teams to try to retain possession of the football after scoring a touchdown and extra point or successful field goal.

The NFL will allow an onside kick alternative at the Pro Bowl. (AP/Mark Zaleski)

The team that just scored — Team A — would have to convert what would essentially be a fourth-and-15 play from its own 25. If it converts and gets a first down, Team A keeps possession and continues the drive. If it does not convert, Team B, the opponent, takes over possession at the spot where the play ended.

Since there are no kickoffs at the Pro Bowl, Team A’s other option after a touchdown or successful field goal is to have Team B take possession at its own 25.

This experiment is a slight modification of a rule proposed by the Denver Broncos last year. The Broncos’ proposal, which was endorsed by the NFL’s competition committee, had the fourth-and-15 play starting at the 35-yard line, and could only be used once a game, in the fourth quarter.

But despite the competition committee’s support, NFL owners did not ratify the rule; 24 of 32 teams must approve a rule for it to pass.

It will be re-examined this offseason.

Flinch by wide receiver

The other potential change that will be part of the Pro Bowl concerns false starts: if a “flexed, eligible receiver in a two-point stance who flinches or picks up one foot, as long as his other foot remains partially on the ground and he resets for one second prior to the snap” will not be considered a false start.

“The NFL Pro Bowl gives the league a chance to test new rules in a game setting,” the league’s officiating department said in its announcement. “The 2020 game will feature tests of two potential rules changes.”

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