The Latest: SEC adds player safety rules for 2018

ATLANTA — The Latest on SEC Media Days

10:20 a.m.

SEC coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw says additional player safety rules are set for 2018. Blocking below the waist is limited to 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. Running backs, for example, are no longer allowed to dive at a defender’s knee from the side.

Pads and pants must cover knees, and if a player is in violation, he must leave the field for one play. A coach can call timeout to keep him in the game if the player immediately fixes his uniform.

The rules committee put 40-second limits in place following touchdowns, free kick returns and fair catches. Previously, a 25-second clock began after the referee signaled that the crew was ready.

And possessions will automatically start at the 25-yard line if a player executes a fair catch inside the 25 on a kickoff.

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2:50 a.m.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart will be in the spotlight when the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason media gathering enters its second day.

After leading Georgia to the SEC championship and a spot in the national championship game in his second season, Smart is facing new challenges. The Bulldogs must replace such 2017 leaders as tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and linebacker Roquan Smith.

Meanwhile, sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm has new competition from freshman Josh Fields, one of the biggest names in Smart’s top-rated 2018 signing class.

Arkansas coach Chad Morris, Florida coach Dan Mullen and Mississippi coach Matt Luke also will speak Tuesday.

This is the first year since 1985 the SEC Media Days have been held outside of the Birmingham, Alabama, area.

The annual event brings together coaches and players from the league’s 14 schools. This year approximately 1,000 media credentials have been issued.

The event will return to Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, in 2019.

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