Just because the NFL has locked out the players, depriving them of their ability to earn a living or rehab their injuries or prepare for the season... doesn't mean they don't care. Today, the league passed new safety rules aimed at protecting players from injury.
Now, hits that involve a player launching themselves into a defenseless player will be subject to both fines and suspensions. A defenseless player has been defined as a receiver who has not had time to protect himself or has not become a runner, even if both feet are on the ground. A defenseless player can't be hit at or above the shoulders.
There are also new definitions of what kind of players can be defenseless.
The definition of such players now includes those throwing a pass; attempting or completing a catch without having time to ward off or avoid contact; a runner whose forward progress has been stopped by a tackler; kickoff or punt returners while the ball is in the air; kickers or punters during a kick or a return; a quarterback during a change of possession; a player who receives a blindside block from a blocker moving toward his own end zone.
One good rule change is that hits to the head of a QB that are not considered "forcible" will not be penalized. So possibly next time a guy brushes Peyton Manning's helmet with his hand, he won't draw a 15 yard penalty.