If Thursday night's game was any indication, expect a lot of flags this season for violations of the NFL's new helmet rule. 

By Michael Shapiro
August 03, 2018

Another season marks another controversial rule change in the NFL, and it didn't take much time for the league's refereeing to come under scrutiny during Thursday's Hall of Fame Game. 

The Ravens were penalized three times for violating the league's new helmet rule in their 17-16 victory over Chicago.

"I feel like they're trying to harp on it a lot more in preseason, so they're going to throw flags even on times when it's not necessarily head to head, just to make people aware of it," Ravens safety Bennett Jackson said postgame. "I spoke to the ref. He even said, 'Hey, it's preseason, we got to throw the flag.'"

Instituted this offseason, the new helmet rule calls for a 15-yard penalty when a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet. Penalities for a lowered head can also lead to fines and potential ejections. 

The new rule has even led to a snag in contract negotiations for incoming rookies. The Bears and first round pick Roquan Smith have yet to come to a contract agreement, in part due to a disagreement over the guaranteed money given to Smith if he is ejected or suspended for violating the helmet rule. 

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