The NFL has a simplified catch rule designed to eliminate confusion — and, the league hopes, controversy — about receptions.
Team owners unanimously approved the new language Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., using basically three elements to define a catch:
• Having control of the ball.
• Getting two feet or another body part down.
• Making a football move, such as taking a third step or extending the ball.
"We wanted to simplify and provide clarity," Pittsburgh coach and longtime competition committee member Mike Tomlin said. "It was time to do so after we got caught up in language that didn't do that. The language was obscure and confusing."
The committee reviewed dozens of plays "dozens of times," according to committee Chairman Rick McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons.
A call that went against Steelers tight end Jesse James and cost Pittsburgh playoff positioning last season played strongly in the conversation. Just as infamous were negated catches by Dez Bryant of the Cowboys in a 2015 playoff game at Green Bay and Calvin Johnson of the Lions in 2010 against the Bears.
"The third-step recommendation was excellent," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It cleans up a majority of the [catches] that were in question. The old rule was so technical. We're better off today than in the past."
Late Tuesday, the owners rewrote the rule on using the helmet, making it a 15-yard penalty for any player to lower his head to initiate any hit with his helmet.
"We saw so many hits when a player lowered his head and delivered a hit and either hurt himself or the player he was hitting," McKay said. "It was time for a change of this magnitude."
Also approved Tuesday was making permanent spotting the ball at the 25-yard line after a touchback on a kickoff; allowing players on injured reserve to be traded; and authorizing a designated member of the officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to eject a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that act is called on the field.
A proposal to limit defensive pass interference to 15 yards, the penalty in college, was withdrawn by the New York Jets.
• Tennessee struck a deal with quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who is expected to become Marcus Mariota's backup. Gabbert spent 2017 with Arizona and started five games.
• Seattle released practice squad quarterback Trevone Boykin shortly after his girlfriend alleged in a television interview that he physically assaulted her in Texas last week. Boykin has been involved in several off-field incidents.
• Chicago re-signed special teams captain and cornerback Sherrick McManis to a two-year contract. He tied for the team lead with 12 special teams tackles in 13 games last season.