On Friday, the Browns learned the new rules and regulations meant to keep the game safer and players on the field.


BEREA, Ohio -- The National Football League has instituted several rule changes and points of emphasis for the 2014 season, and a crew of officials was in Berea Friday to go over the new regulations and officiate on-field work.

Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel drew one of the several flags that flew during Friday's training camp practice, and it came in the form of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he flipped the ball over the crossbar following a touchdown run.

Under the new rules, Manziel used the goal post as a prop, which is against league rules because New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham delayed a game when he bent a crossbar while dunking the ball in celebration last season.

"The rule -- and I needed to do a better job explaining it to them -- is the goal post is now considered a prop," Browns coach Mike Pettine said following practice. "I think the obvious thing is you just can't spike it anymore after some of the incidents last year with the goal post being bent and the game being delayed. For obvious reasons, they decided to outlaw that.

"Even now, whether it's a finger roll, a fade away jumper, anything, it's considered you're using it as a prop and it'll be a flag. I'd rather learn that lesson in practice and use it as a coaching moment than in the middle of a game."

Among the other rules changes, the NFL has outlawed the rolling into the sides of a defender's legs. Cut blocking is still legal, so long as it is done to the front of a defender's legs. No longer are blockers allowed to cut from the side or roll up from behind a defender.

Also, there will be no stopping of the clock after a quarterback sack with under two minutes remaining in a quarter. Under the old rule, the clock stopped until the ball was set for the next play.

The replay system has expanded, and now, on-field officials will consult with senior members of the officiating department in New York to review a play, of which fumbles, backward passes and kickoffs are now eligible to be reviewed.

Under the "Points of Emphasis" portion of the rules, any grabbing of a wide receiver's jersey or uniform is considered defensive holding, and wide receivers are prohibited from using their hands to push off and gain an advantage against a defender.

Thigh and knee pads must continue to be worn by all players, except for punters and kickers, and any simulation of movement by an offensive lineman is now considered a false start.

Lastly, officials have been instructed to pay close attention to hands to the face and five-yard illegal contact penalties during the upcoming season.

"It's been a rule on the books, and it's something that we teach our guys," Pettine said of the illegal contact penalty. "We want to take advantage of the rule and make contact early, but you can't grab. 'Cover with your feet.'

"I know it's being coached the right way, but sometimes, it gets a little bit gray because at the top of the play, there's some collision, a question of a defender protecting his own space, an offensive guy pushing off. I think that's probably one of the hardest things for the officials to officiate."


Browns safety Tashaun Gipson left Friday's practice early and was unable to return to the field. Following practice, Pettine was informed by athletic trainer Joe Sheehan that Gipson was "being evaluated" for an injury.


In addition to Manziel's flip over the crossbar, the Browns' offense took great pleasure in celebrating each touchdown during Friday's practice, and the players let the defense know when a good play was made.

"I think they were a little frustrated over time with the defensive backs," Pettine said. "They've been very physical with them and they won a lot of the battles. I think that just spilled over. Any time they got a chance to get in the end zone, they wanted to make sure everybody knew it."


At the end of Friday's practice, the challenge period consisted of coaches on both sides of the ball having to field a punt from Spencer Lanning to see who would get to wear the special orange jerseys during Monday's practice.

Seven of the eight coaches caught the punts, and the offense won the right to wear the orange jerseys for the first time during Monday's practice because coaching intern Mike LaFleur fielded the last of the kicks to seal the win.

"The defensive coaches decided to take the jersey thing a step further and they wore orange shirts too," Pettine said. "I thought we had doubled our amount of ball boys out here at practice. I wanted to put it in their hands.

"I would of lost a lot of money if you would have said we'd put eight coaches out there catching knuckle-ball punts and seven of them would catch it. Those guys stepped up. It was impressive. We'll just be in white and brown jerseys tomorrow, but then, the offense will wear the orange jerseys on Monday."

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