(USA Today) -- Keep your head up.
That's the message the NFL's rules-making competition committee wants to get across to players -- especially running backs in the open field -- as it continues to try to make the game safer.
Among the six rules changes that will be proposed to NFL owners at league meetings next week, the committee recommends banning players from using the crown of their helmet to initiate contact. At least 24 votes from 32 owners are required for passage.
Using the crown always has been a no-no for defenders, especially in cases where they could be flagged for spearing. Now the competition committee is looking for extra protection for defenders -- not to mention an offensive player who may put himself more at risk.
"It has to be the obvious call," said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the committee, during a conference call on Thursday. "You can't make that choice of delivering a forcible blow with your helmet."
Coaches have urged players for years: See what you hit. Now it's likely the rule will say it, too.
"We feel that we can avoid some dangerous situations on the field," said St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, the committee's former co-chair.
Other proposed changes:
Eliminate the tuck rule: A fumble will be a fumble. If a quarterback decides not to throw the ball and pulls it back, if he drops it, it'll be a fumble.
Ban peel-back blocks inside the tackle box: Currently, peel-backs -- in which an offensive player turns back toward his goal line to cut down an unsuspecting defender -- are allowed outside the tackle zone. Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, who had his season ended and his ACL torn on a peel-back block by Matt Slauson of the New York Jets, has been a leading proponent of the rule change.
Fix challenge flag rule: Throwing it at the wrong time won't prevent officials from getting a call right on instant replay. Last season, the technicality of a coach challenging a play when he didn't need to -- such as after a TD or turnover -- nullified a replay review.
That might have cost the Detroit Lions a game, when a long Houston Texans TD run stood, even though replays showed the runner's knee touched the turf at the start of the play.