Kickoff compromise, replay changes pass

The last-minute compromise on kickoff rules helped lead to passage today at the NFL meetings.

Kickoffs have been moved back to the 35-yard line, but touchbacks remain at the 20. The two-man wedge also has returned and players covering the kickoff can get no more than a 5-yard running start.

Kickoffs were moved to the 30 in 1994, when the NFL sought to open up the return game and limit touchbacks.

Some coaches apparently thought bringing touchbacks to the 25 will inspire kickers to “mortar kick” high and short of the goal line, in an attempt to limit returns, something that could end up being as dangerous as the current setup. Rich McKay, chair of the competition committee, said he feels the fact that kicking tees now are limited to 1 inch in height will make it hard to do that.

In changes to the replay system, all scoring plays are now reviewable if necessary even if a coach has used his challenges or the play does not occur inside the 2-minute warning.

Coaches will still receive a third challenge if their two previous challenges were correct. The competition committee has recommended eliminating that. The Eagles has proposed the change.

And we won't be seeing blue or red playing fields in the NFL. All playing fields must be a league-approved version of green.

Two proposed rule changes involving player safety were tabled until the next owners' meeting in May.



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