The NFL adjusted their rules on Tuesday. Multiple outlets report that owners have voted to reduce overtime from 15 minutes to 10, eliminate the 75-man cutdown period of the preseason, and allow for a second player to return from injured reserve during the season.
The cutback of overtime has garnered considerable attention over the past week. Most North American sports leagues already use a shorter extra period to settle ties, and the NFL believes that approach makes sense for professional football as well. The league's overtime rules previously allowed the game to end in sudden death via a touchdown or for any score after the first possession. However, last season's October tilt between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks resulted in a tie after the additional 15 minutes of play, perhaps pushing owners towards changing the length.
Still, the NFL's other rule changes could have a more significant effect. The move towards a single cutdown deadline at the end of the preseason will please most coaches, allowing them to take as many as 90 players into the final exhibition game and further limit exposure to key players. The change will create some additional chaos during the transition to the regular season, but it creates more opportunities for more players.
Yet the biggest change to the NFL's rules won't affect teams until at least November. Over the last two years, clubs could return one player from injured reserve provided they had spent at least eight weeks on the list. The approval of a second player removes the prospect of difficult choices between two eligible players ready to contribute again. This moves the NFL closer to Major League Baseball, which utilizes various versions of its disabled list to deal with injuries.