Owners don’t pass onside-kick alternative

The NFL’s most high-profile proposal to change its rules — a fourth-and-15 meant to replace the onside kick — did not pass during a vote of league owners Thursday. Three rules and one bylaw did.

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The NFL approved three new rules and one bylaw Thursday.

The NFL approved three new rules and one bylaw Thursday.

Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The NFL’s most high-profile proposal to change its rules — a fourth-and-15 meant to replace the onside kick — did not pass during a vote of league owners Thursday.

Three rules and one bylaw did:

• The league made permanent the expansion of replay to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, as well as extra-point tries.

• The NFL expanded defenseless play protection to kick and punt returners who have caught the ball but not had time to avoid a tackler.

• It is now illegal to commit multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running in order to drain the clock — a trick used by Patriots coach Bill Belichick and a pupil, Titans coach Mike Vrabel.

• A new bylaw allows teams to bring back three players from injured reserve, up from two.

The NFL’s owners held a virtual meeting Thursday, with 24 of 32 votes needed to approve any proposed rule change.

The onside kick change, proposed by the Eagles, was meant to eliminate the onside kick, which was made more difficult in recent years by safety rules applied to kickoffs. For the second-straight year, though, owners tabled the rule.

The change would have given teams an untimed fourth-and-15 down from the kicking team’s own 25-yard line. Make it, and the team would get to keep the ball. If the defensive were to stop the play, it would get the ball at the spot of the stop.

The proposal allowed for two such attempts per regulation game, and none during overtime.

Bears coach Matt Nagy sounded intrigued by the proposal Wednesday on NBC Sports Network’s “The Rich Eisen Show.”

“Whatever they say I’m cool with,” he said. “I think that what you have to do is, it’s fourth-and-15, you gotta start having some plays that are going to give you the best opportunity possible.”

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