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CFL to implement two minor rules modifications in time for 2024 season

The CFL will implement adjustments to its rules on low block and command centre intervention in 2024.
The CFL will implement adjustments to its rules on low block and command centre intervention in 2024. A CFL official is seen during a game in Ottawa Friday July 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The CFL will implement adjustments to its rules on low block and command centre intervention in 2024.

Backfield players, regardless of their position at the snap, can now cross the offensive formation and deliver a low block on a defensive player who is lined up across from or outside the offensive tackle. But the block must occur in the legal low-block zone. 

This removes the requirement of the backfield player to be in the legal low-block zone at the snap. The change was made to make the call easier to officiate while improving player safety by limiting who can be legally blocked low.

This season, no yards was added among the penalties that can be picked up by the league's command centre if called incorrectly by on-field officials. Replay officials can only get involved if an error has clearly been made and coaches can still challenge the call.

The command centre can also assist on tripping of quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage. Coaches can now challenge those plays.

Coaches can strategically use a timeout to provide the command centre with additional time to automatically review a play that they can't challenge. Coaches will still have two timeouts per game with only one that can be used following the three-minute warning in the fourth quarter. ​

The CFL didn't implement any changes to kickoffs in 2024. But its rules committee -- which consists of league head coaches and representatives of the Canadian Professional Football Officials Association, CFL Players' Association and league office -- has formed a subcommittee to further evaluate potential kickoff rules aimed at limiting the speed and distance of collisions.

And that will include monitoring the NFL's one-year trial of a new kickoff system used by the XFL.

Kickers will still kick off from their 35-yard line but the other 10 members of the kicking team will line up at the opposing team's 40-yard line. The players covering the kickoff will line up at the opposing 40-yard line.

The return team will have a minimum of nine players lined up between the 30- and 35-yard line, with at least seven touching the 35.

Up to two returners will be allowed inside the 20-yard line. Only the kicker and returners will be allowed to move until the ball hits the ground or is touched by a returner inside the 20.

Kicks reaching the end zone in the air can be returned or the returning squad can take the touchback at its 30-yard line. Kicks that reach the end zone in the air and either go out of bounds or through the end zone will also result in a touchback at the 30.

Should the ball hit a returner or the ground outside the end zone or go into the end zone, it will either result in a touchback at the 20-yard line or the kick being returned. Kicks received in the field of play must be returned.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press