ATLANTA, Ga. – During the NFL’s spring meetings, owners voted to change the way kickoffs are played for the upcoming season.
The rules aim to limit full-speed collisions and make kickoffs similar to punts.
One of the key changes is that players on the kicking team are no longer allowed to start five yards behind the point of kickoff, which allowed them to gain a running start.
The ejection policy for “use of the helmet” was also revamped. Now, it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.
Key takeaways from new rules:
1. No two-man wedge blocks allowed.
3. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, no player on the receiving team may cross the restraining line (typically its 45) or initiate a block. This forces blockers on the receiving team to run back and block, which greatly decreases the chance of an “attack” block that can result in a high-speed collision.
4. When the ball hits the end zone, it’s immediately ruled a touchback. There is no need for a player to down the ball in the end zone to initiate a touchback.