Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: When the wide receiver lines up, looks to the sideline and then points, what is he doing? When the quarterback lifts his leg right before the play starts, what is he signaling?
Farmer: When a receiver lines up, looks to the side and points, he's checking with the official on the sideline — the head linesman on the visitor's side, the line judge on the home team's side — to make sure he's correctly positioned along the line of scrimmage. The official might instruct him to move forward or backward so he's not lined up in the neutral zone or too far behind the line.
As for why a quarterback sometimes stomps his foot before the ball is snapped, here’s
Question: Is a horse-collar tackle enforced if a player is hooked on the back of the neck area only, or in front of the neck also?
Farmer: The NFL defines a horse-collar tackle as grabbing the inside collar of the back or side of the shoulder pads, not the front. The rule doesn't apply to a runner who is inside the tackle box, or a quarterback who is in the pocket. A defender doesn't need to successfully bring down the runner to draw the 15-yard flag, only cause the runner's knees to buckle.
Question: I understand that the roughing the kicker penalty is necessary to protect him. He is in a very exposed and precarious position and could easily be injured. What I don't understand is why are all bets off when it comes to protecting him if the kick is blocked. You see it time and time again when he is roughed and knocked around but it is OK because the kick is blocked. He is still exposed and vulnerable. Can you explain?
Farmer: Safety is definitely a concern. That said, if a defensive player is taking the correct angle to block the kick, he might not be able to avoid making contact with the kicker. The league feels it's not fair to handcuff defenders that way.