Sport NFL to vote on kickoff rule changes to improve player safety

01:10  17 may  2018
01:10  17 may  2018 Source:

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NEW ORLEANS — NFL owners approved rule changes Tuesday to improve safety on kickoffs and require instant replay review for all scoring plays . On kickoffs , the ball will be placed at the 35-yard line, instead of the 30 as it is now

NEW ORLEANS -- NFL owners voted to alter rules for kickoffs and instant replay next season but tabled a proposal that would have expanded language changes in the rule involving penalties against defenseless players . Although he commends the NFL for trying to improve player safety , he said

The NFL is continuing to figure out ways to make kickoffs safer and will vote next week on several proposed changes aiming to reduce the number of high-speed collisions which happen during returns.

The proposals, which need to be approved by two-thirds of NFL team owners before going into effect for the 2018 season, will be discussed at next week's Spring League Meeting in Atlanta. The proposals were made with special teams coaches and members of the league's Competition Committee during a player safety summit earlier this month.

a baseball player running to catch a ball © Getty Images

"If you don't make changes to make it safer, we're going to do away with it," Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the NFL's competition committee, said of kickoffs last month. "It's that serious. It's by far the most dangerous play in the game."

Some key changes owners will vote on in hopes of improving player safety:

— Eliminating running starts for kickoff coverage teams, meaning the kicking team will line up within one yard of where the ball is kicked. The previous rule allowed players to line up five yards behind the location of the ball, but if approved, the kicker will be the only one allowed to get a running start.

— Eight of the 11 men on the return must be lined up in the "setup zone" within 15 yards of the ball. This would typically be between the kicking team's 45-yard line and the receiving team's 40-yard line.

— Wedge blocks would be eliminated and only players who line up in the "setup zone" can put up double-team blocks.

— If the ball goes into the end zone, it's immediately ruled a touchback and a player will no longer be required to down the ball.

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While everybody argues about the NFL's national anthem policy, its new use of helmet rule is lurking as another controversy for the 2018 season. At least the latter makes some sense.The league’s new national anthem policy, announced Wednesday, rightfully has garnered the attention of those who work in, cover and call themselves fans of professional football. While that debate of an off-field matter rages on through the summer and into the 2018 season, the NFL's new "Use of Helmet rule" will be lurking, waiting for its chance to thrust itself back into the national conversation.

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