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The NFL is expanding its use of the replay assist system. According to CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones, referees will now be able to use replay assist for plays involving intentional grounding, roughing the passer, and late hits out of bounds.

However, the assistance will only be for plays on which a flag is thrown for those penalties. So, if a player was hit out of bounds but a flag was mistakenly not thrown, replay assist cannot correct that and correctively issue a flag.

Per Jones' reporting, the use of replay assist on those plays will be for the following reasons:

  • On intentional grounding: Whether the quarterback was in the pocket and whether he was under duress. 
  • Roughing: If there was clear and obvious video evidence that the defender did not make any contact to the head or neck area.
  • Late hit out of bounds: If the runner was obviously hit while in-bounds.

These are good changes that will likely be much-welcomed by teams and fans alike. The fact that replay cannot turn a no-call into a call, though, will presumably not go over that well, as there will still be plenty of complaints about missed calls, and questions about why the replay assist system was not expanded to rectify that issue.

Given the expansion, though, it seems likely that officials will err on the side of calling these penalties more often, with the idea that the assist system will overturn them if they should not be fouls. However, when the league instituted replay review for pass-interference penalties a few seasons ago, the system was widely ridiculed because calls were almost never overturned, and the system was quickly scrapped. If the same thing happens here, it would not be surprising if they took it away in the future.