ATLANTA -- The NFL has made thigh and knee pads mandatory equipment for the 2013 season, something the players' union could oppose because the move was not collectively bargained.
Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, says Tuesday at an owners meeting that because this is a playing rule, the league can implement it unilaterally.
The owners also voted to move the training deadline from after Week 6 to after Week 8, and to allow one "marquee" player placed on injured reserve to return to practice after the sixth game and to the lineup after the eighth game. That player must be on the 53-man roster after the final preseason cut.
The pads rule won't go into effect until 2013 so equipment manufacturers can work on safety and comfort.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have a familiar face back on the practice field, it appears.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, running back Dion Lewis is expected to begin practicing this week. Lewis has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the regular season.
Lewis tore his ACL in a Week 9 win over the Redskins last season, landing him on season-ending injured reserve. He was able to participate on a limited basis during OTAs but then experienced a setback that required surgery before the start of the season.
Once Lewis hits the practice field, the Patriots have a three-week window to place him on the active roster. The team currently has an open roster spot and could, in theory, activate him as early as this week.
When healthy last season, Lewis as a dynamic all-purpose back whose quickness allowed him to make defenders miss both in tight spaces between the tackles and in the open field as a receiver. The Patriots have used James White as their primary sub back in Lewis' absence, and he's on pace for a career year, with 27 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
Chris Gasper gives his list of things we still do not know about the New England Patriots this year.