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Report: NFL Wants Referees To Emphasize 1 Penalty This Year

photo of an nfl referee

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 23: A detail of the uniform and whistle of an NFL referee as he oversees the action between the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Texans defeated the Broncos 31-25. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Every new NFL season, the league tends to have its referees really focus in on certain points of emphasis going into the year.

In 2022, the focus will reportedly be on illegal contact by defensive players.

Per Kevin Seifert of ESPN:

The NFL has asked its on-field officials to pay particular attention to illegal contact fouls during the 2022 season, a league spokesperson confirmed Monday. The request could lead to an increase in such flags following a big drop during the 2021 season.

Illegal contact occurs when a defender maintains contact with a receiver beyond five yards. The penalty was called an average 97 times per season over an 18-year span. However, it was only called 36 times in 2021.

This isn't the first time that this foul has been made a point of emphasis either. The NFL did so back in 2014 and those calls spiked to 148 from just 52 the previous year.

Additionally, Seifert notes that roughing the passer penalties will also be a "significant" point of clarification this season. 

Saying that contact to the head and below the knee must be "forcible," aiming to clean up some of the flags for minor and incidental contact to the quarterback.