The NFL's controversial new helmet rule was enforced just 4 minutes into the first preseason game of the year

  • The NFL's new helmet rule got its first test on Thursday during the opening preseason game of the year.
  • Patrick Onwuasor was called for illegal use of helmet after leading with his head to bring down Bears running back Benny Cunningham.
  • The rule has caused confusion across the league, with officials and teams alike unable to clarify what is a penalty.
     

Football fans didn't have to wait long to see how officials would be enforcing the league's new rule regarding players that lead with their helmet.

Just over four minutes into the opening game of the 2018 preseason between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears, Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor was called for illegal use of helmet after a tackle, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Onwuasor did not seem out of control while bringing down Bears running back Benny Cunningham. The replay showed he did put his head down ahead of contact, prompting the official to throw the flag.

You can get a look at the play below.

While the rule was put in place to make the sport safer, the use of helmet rule has thus far caused headaches for players, coaches, and officials attempting to figure out just how it will be enforced.

The rule, which bans players from lowering their helmet to initiate contact but confusingly allows for "incidental contact," has been criticised as vague by detractors, with Fox rules analyst and former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira saying the rule would be "impossible to officiate."

Officials efforts to clarify the rule have reportedly fallen short — after the Philadelphia Eagles hosted referees for a presentation regarding the new rule, they were apparently left with more questions than answers.

"[The refs] were kind of like, 'Hey, we didn't make the rules.' Because I think guys were kind of frustrated," running back Wendell Smallwood said. "Most of the defense was like, 'Man, how are we supposed to tackle?' They were frustrated."

See more from the game: 

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2018 NFL Hall of Fame Game
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy stands with players Allen Robinson (12), Mitch Trubisky (10), and Kyle Fuller (23), during the national anthem before the Hall of Fame Game against the Baltimore Ravens at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis receives a hug as the 2018 Hall of Fame inductees are announced before the Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and the Ravens at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: General view as the sun sets in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Game between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: Chase Daniel #4 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Game against the Baltimore Ravens at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: Maxx Williams #87 of the Baltimore Ravens runs into the end zone with a five-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Game against the Chicago Bears at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears fullback Michael Burton (46) is congratulated by wide receiver Marlon Brown after Burton scored a touchdown in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Game against the Baltimore Ravens at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Chicago Bears tight end Dion Sims (88) grabs a bit of fabric as he tries to tackle Baltimore Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa (51) after Correa intercepted a pass by quarterback Chase Daniel in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: Chase Daniel #4 of the Chicago Bears gets sacked by Kamalei Correa #51 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter of the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: Hayden Hurst #81 of the Baltimore Ravens makes a reception against Jonathan Anderson #52 of the Chicago Bears in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: Hayden Hurst #81 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after a touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears in the third quarter of the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 02: Jordan Lasley #17 of the Baltimore Ravens breaks a tackle after a reception against Michael Joseph #21 of the Chicago Bears in the third quarter of the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 2, 2018 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass under pressure from Chicago Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (98) during the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The Ravens defeated the Bears 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive back Darious Williams (27) reacts as Chicago Bears wide receiver Tanner Gentry (19) catches a pass for a touchdown in the second half at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst (left) celebrates scoring a touchdown with quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) against the Chicago Bears in the second half at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Chicago Bears fullback Michael Burton (46) reacts to scoring a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Maxx Williams (87) reacts to scoring a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the first half at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Ultimately, teams will have to learn on the fly as the rule is enforced through the preseason, and adjust to the officials tendencies as necessary, and on Thursday, they got their first look at just how much the rule could affect the game.

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