By Flint Wheeler

A little over a month ago owners approved seven new rules for the 2016 season. There were still several more proposed rule changes being discussed on in the following weeks. Of those, three more were approved.

For next season, the ball will be placed on the 25-yard line following touchbacks on kickoffs instead of the 20. Following the season, the rule will be re-visited and the decision will be made as to whether or not it will be made permanent.

Another rule which was approved for a preliminary, one-year trial was the automatic ejection rule, which was suggested by Commissioner Roger Goodell. The rule will eject any player who is flagged for two personal foul penalties in a game.

Finally, it was passed that the player on injured reserve-designated to return will no longer be required to be selected in advance. Any player on IR can return after six weeks, but teams are only allowed to have one player return, as had been the case in previous years. That change was not among those proposed earlier this week.

Other rule changes include:

– Permanently moves the line of scrimmage for Try kicks to the defensive team’s 15-yard line, and allows the defense to return any missed Try.

– Permits the offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staffs to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether they are on the field or in the coaches’ booth.

– Makes all chop blocks illegal.

– Expands the horse collar rule to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.

– Makes it a foul for delay of game when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so.

– Eliminates the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down.

– Eliminates multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.

And in other news…

The US Open is one of the most anticipated tennis events every year. It’s also the last opportunity for the world’s best players to win a Grand Slam tournament before the 2016 season ends. Here are our predictions for the men’s and women’s tournaments in Flushing Meadows. Men’s Tournament: Novak Djokovic, Serbia Djokovic remains the favorite to win this tournament, both among most fans and most oddsmakers in Las Vegas, but it hasn’t been an easy year for the Serbian superstar. He looked primed for a Grand Slam run after winning the first two majors of the year in the Australian Open and French Open. But then he was stunningly upset in the third round at Wimbledon and was even more surprisingly eliminated in the first round of the men’s singles tournament at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Djokovic has been to six of the last seven Grand Slam tournament finals, and he’s won five of them. He’s also been to five of the last six US Open finals, which includes wins in 2011 and 2015. A motivated Djokovic ultimately will be too tough for the rest of the field in New York. He’s too talented to suffer crushing defeats in three straight high-profile tournaments. Women’s Tournament: Serena Williams, USA Williams entered the 2015 US Open looking invincible, but her quest for a calendar grand slam was ended in the semifinal with a loss to Roberta Vinci. Williams didn’t play her best in Rio, but she’s been fantastic in Grand Slam tournaments this season. After losing in the final of the Australian Open and French Open, the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion broke through at Wimbledon. She has won this tournament six times, including a streak of three titles in a row from 2012 through 2014. Look for Williams’ service game, athleticism and experience to carry her to another US Open title.

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