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The 53: Who will back up at inside LB?

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The 53: Who will back up at inside LB?

The news that inside linebacker Jonathan Goff has been waivedinjured after tearing the same ACL that he tore a year ago means that the depth chart at that position needs to be reexamined.Here is how I had the depth chart at inside linebacker shaking out before training camp started.Starters: London Fletcher, Perry Riley
Reserves: Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff
Out: Donnell HoltIt seems unlikely that Holt will be able to take the opening created by Goffs departure. The rookie free agent out of Cal will get a look but he will be doing well if he makes the practice squad.Goffs role was likely to be similar to the one that Keyaron Fox filled last year. Fox was a veteran who played 51 snaps on defense and a lot of special teams.If things go according to plan, Fletcher and Riley are likely to play nearly every snap. Fletcher missed just 26 snaps all season while Riley was out for 23 defensive plays in his eight starts.But if things dont go according to plan, Goff, who started 20 games at middle linebacker for the Giants in 2009-2010, would have been a solid backup. Instead they are left with Alexander, who is moving over from outside linebacker, and the rookie Robinson.Could they go outside to get experienced help? According to Adam Caplan the top available free agent at inside linebacker is ex-Colt Gary Brackett. The 32-year-old missed all but one game last year with a torn rotator cuff and at 5-11, 235 he might be a bit too small for the inside linebacker spot. But hes an inch taller and only about 10 pounds lighter than Fletcher so maybe could fill the bill there.Ex-Viking and Maryland Terp E. J. Henderson, who is 31 and has started 107 NFL games including 32 the past two seasons, is also on the market. He is generally considered to be a liability in coverage so he is limited to being a two-down run stuffer. That doesnt quite fit the Redskins vision of a three-down inside linebacker but there arent many of those walking the street this time of year. His asking price was high earlier in the offseason but there are reports that it has come down.Other options include Reggie Torbor (age 31, 28 NFL starts) and former Charger Stephen Cooper (33, 63 starts).Another option is for the Redskins to alter their plan for Robinson. He probably was going to have what amounted to a redshirt year in 2012, playing sparingly on defense while he learned and prepared to be Fletchers eventual successor. They may not have that luxury now and Robinson could get forced into taking meaningful spas before hes fully ready to do so playing the most complex position on the defense.Despite Alexander's relative inexperience on the inside, he could step up and play a bigger role than may have been planned as well.If they do that, they could use Goffs roster spot for an extra safety or perhaps to keep another running back.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

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AP Images

NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

The NFL is not eliminating kickoffs altogether for the 2018 season. But at the NFL spring meetings in Atlanta, Ga., owners did agree to make significant changes to the third phase of football.

The NFL's new kickoff rules begin with having five players on each side of the ball (previously they could line up six on one side). Also, they cannot line up more than 1-yard from the restraining line, which is the line where the ball is placed on the tee. This prohibits the kickoff team from getting a running start downfield. 

At least two players must be lined up outside the yard-line numbers and at least two players lined up between the numbers and the hash mark. In years past, three players had to be lined up outside the inbounds line with one outside the yard-line number. At least eight players need to be in the 15-yard "setup zone," leaving three players outside of the "setup zone." Before, all kickoff return players had to be behind their restraining line. These changes will place players closer to where the ball is kicked in order to reduce speed and the amount of space on the play. 

Wedge blocks are no longer allowed. Players who were initially lined up in the "setup zone" are the only ones who can now come together for a double-team block. In the past, only 2-man wedge blocks were allowed and could take place on the field anywhere. The purpose of this change is to limit the possible blocking schemes by the kickoff return team. 

No player on the receiving side of the ball can cross the restraining line or block in the 15-yard area from the kicking team's restraining line until the ball is touched or hits the ground. Before, the receiving team could move past their restraining line and block as soon as the ball was kicked. This change gets rid of the "jump-set/attack" block.

Finally, a ball will be considered dead if it's not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone. In the past, the ball was dead once it was downed in the end zone by the receiving team. This change means there's no requirement for the kickoff returner to down the ball in the end-zone. 

If that was a lot to dissect, check out the video below. 

In addition to new kickoff rules, ejections are now reviewable. In March, a rule passed that officials can make an ejection after a replay, but not they can also undo an ejection after a replay. 

The league also adjusted the official language for Use of a Helmet rule. 

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