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NFL approves new targeting rule

Targeting a player in the NFL is not an automatic ejection, like in college football, but the player can be disqualified.
Targeting a player in the NFL is not an automatic ejection, like in college football, but the player can be disqualified.(FILE/STEPHEN B. MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

ORLANDO — The NFL drafted and approved a significant player-safety rule similar to the “targeting” rule in college football. It will be now be a 15-yard penalty for any player — offense or defense — who lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. It is not an automatic ejection, like in college football, but the player can be disqualified.

Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, said that a large number of concussions happen on plays where a player lowers his head.

“This is a pretty significant change,” McKay said Tuesday. “We felt it was time for a change of this magnitude.”

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Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin