TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian Football League is eliminating full-contact padded practices during the season and is extending its schedule to 21 weeks to help reduce the risk of injury.

The league and CFL Players Association made the joint announcement Wednesday.

"What the league and players together have done is a smart investment in making sure our best players stay on the field and are healthy," said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, a league offensive lineman from 1985-93. "I think that's what our fans want .... and anything we can do to keep our guys healthy, strong and safe just means we should end up with a much better product on the field."

The change is effective immediately. Teams were previously allowed to hold a total of 17 padded practices following training camp.

In the NFL, clubs can have 11 padded practices over the first 11 weeks of the season, a maximum of one per week. After that, clubs can have three more padded practices for a total of 14.

Starting next year, the CFL regular season will be extended a week to 21, giving players more rest time between games.

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As a result, each CFL team will have three off weeks instead of two.

"Any time you can immediately and positively affect player safety and their welfare, I think you're going to find we're fully supportive of that," said Brian Ramsay, the CFLPA's executive director. "To be able to do this and build on the relationship between (the CFL and CFLPA) and be able to make a monumental decision within a season, speaks to the growth in the relationship."

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