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NFL Rules Changes 2016: Longer PAT is now permanent, chop blocks are gone, and more

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Green Bay should not be significantly affected by the rules changes passed by the NFL's owners today.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday at the NFL league meetings, the team owners voted on the various rules change proposals that were submitted over the past week to the league's Competition Committee. Of the 19 proposals, seven were approved on Tuesday, according to NFL.com, and a few others will be discussed on Wednesday.

Arguably the biggest change is not really a change at all, at least not from the rules as they existed in 2015. The league voted to make the longer extra point permanent, meaning that teams will snap a PAT from the 15-yard line for good from now on. Previously, that placement was approved for 2015 only on a permanent basis, but this change means that it is now a permanent fixture in the rulebook.

For the Packers, the rule had no effect last season. Mason Crosby was perfect on his PATs in 2015, hitting on all 36 attempts. That made him one of just five qualifying kickers to hit 100% on PATs last season. Prior to the rule's adoption, Crosby truly missed just a single PAT in his NFL career, back in 2009 (he had two blocked in 2014 and one blocked in 2011).

The second significant rule is that all chop blocks are now illegal. Chop blocks are defined as when an offensive player blocks a defensive player low, while that defensive player is already engaged with another offensive player. This should not be confused with cut blocks, which are one-on-one low blocks.

Packers guard T.J. Lang is typically outspoken when he does not agree with the NFL's actions, but he has no strong gripe with this change. However, he points out that defensive holding should be looked at more closely in light of this change. He also notes that some teams in particular use dangerous blocking techniques that are "dirty" and "illegal", but are sometimes missed.

Five other changes were approved on Tuesday, including expanding headset communication to coaches in the coaches' box as well as on the field; expanding the area that qualifies for a "horse-collar" tackle; enforcing a delay-of-game penalty when a team calls a timeout but is not allowed to do so (such as if they have no timeouts left); and a pair of minor clarifications on additional penalties.