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TFD: Is this the end of NFL kick returns as we know them?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional football Updated: March 16, 2011 - 4:36 PM

From the 500th and 501st paragraphs of an AP story about the NFL and possible changes:

At next week's owners meetings in New Orleans, the competition committee will propose moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line, and bringing a touchback out to the 25. There would be no changes for touchbacks on any other plays, with the ball coming out to the 20.

No player other than the kicker would be allowed to line up more than 5 yards behind the ball, and the committee will suggest outlawing the wedge on kickoffs; all blocking wedges were reduced to two players in 2009.

"The injury rate on kickoffs remains a real concern for us and the players and the coaches' subcommittee," said Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the competition committee. "This is a pretty major change."

Yeah it is. Not only do we envision a ton more kickoffs sailing into the end zone (and deep into the end zone or through it), but we also envision coaches instructing players not to take it out and/or chewing butts because it's a lot harder to get it past the 25 than the 20.

It would diminish -- by a lot -- the edge gained by having a great return man. And it would really even the field position battle if more kickers could boot touchbacks. Field position is so much of what the NFL is right now. As such, this change would be a pretty big deal.

Your thoughts in the comments, as usual.

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