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Ask Farmer: How is Jason Pierre-Paul’s arm cast legal?

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul reacts during the first half a game against the New York Jets on Dec. 6.

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul reacts during the first half a game against the New York Jets on Dec. 6.

(Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

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: sam.farmer@latimes.com

How is Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul allowed to play with that hard cast on his arm? In the Giants-Jets game, it looked like a large club, and I’m sure it was hurting his opponents when he hit them with it. It also seemed unfair that it made his hand and arm wider.

Craig Gray, Bellflower

Pierre-Paul’s cast on his right arm and hand does seem to be growing by the week, and he has used it like a weapon against blockers. He wears it instead of the four-fingered glove that the training staff made him when he returned from the fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger.

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According to NFL rules, hard objects such as casts or braces must be covered on all edges and surfaces by a minimum of 3/8-inch foam rubber or similar soft material. The associated injury must be reported by the coaching staff to the umpire before the game. If the umpire determines the hard object might present a risk to other players, he may prevent its use.

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I have noticed on some NFL players the letter “C” on their uniform, which I figured they got from the NFL and stands for captain. My question is about the stars under the C on NFL players. Sometimes all of the stars are gold, while other times some of the stars are gold with white stars. Any meaning to the color of the stars?

Gary Panther, Anaheim

You’re right. The C on an upper corner of the chest does stand for captain, and there’s meaning to the line of stars underneath. Beginning in 2007, the NFL allowed teams to designate as many as six captains per season. The stars designate the number of years of service as a captain. This is how the Giants say they do it: In years 1-4, the C is white with a gold star for each year served. When a player reaches his fifth season as captain, he gets a gold C with four gold stars underneath.

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Why on punt returns do officials not call clipping anymore? It always seems to be “illegal block in the back” now, which is 10 yards instead of the 15 for clipping.

Alexander Helmke, Minneapolis

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The hit needs to be below the waist to warrant a clipping call. Longtime NFL referee and now CBS rules analyst Mike Carey explains: “All the coaches and players have adapted not to go low on players on changes of possession. They’ve done a great job of adapting to that rule, which has been in place for at least 15 years. Players transitioned pretty effectively to that in the first two years.”

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesFarmer


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