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NFL considers more rule changes to kickoffs

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

According to Tom Pelissero of the USA Today, the NFL is further considering changes to kickoffs and have decided to consult with special teams coaches from around the league on the matter. The NFL reportedly solicited suggested changes from all 32 teams prior to holding a conference call on the matter.

Pelissero says two sources spoke to him on the condition of anonymity because the subject was not supposed to be made public. The suggestions that were made by teams and discussed include the following:

  • Instead of the kickoff team getting a running start on kickoffs, defenders would have to stay still on the 35-yard line until the kicker runs up and kicks the ball.
  • 8 players on the return team would have to begin their starting positions a certain distance that is closer to the ball.
  • Outlawing certain blocks, such as “wedge” and “attach” blocks.
  • Prevent the possibility of long onside kicks. For example, if a kickoff travels a certain distance, like 25 yards, and the return team lets the other team “recover” it, the ball will be simply treated as “down” like it would be on a punt.
  • Eliminate the harder “K” balls used on kickoffs.

No changes would take place for the 2016 regular season, but there is still a remote possibility that a change could be pilot-tested during the preseason. These suggestions are all intended to make kickoffs safer.