We noticed during Thursday night’s preseason games that the new rule moving kickoffs to the 35-yard line resulted in a lot of touchbacks. One of the best kickoff returners in the NFL noticed, too, and he wasn’t happy about it.
Browns return man Josh Cribbs wrote on Twitter during Thursday night’s games that he was frustrated by seeing so many touchbacks and thinks the NFL will move the kickoff back to the 30-yard line soon.
“I see an immediate amendment on the kickoff rule either [before] the end of the year or beginning of next year [because] without that part of the return game it might as well be a scrimmage,” Cribbs wrote.
In all, there were 51 kickoffs on Thursday night, with 16 touchbacks and 35 returns. So it’s not like the kickoff return is a thing of the past. And San Diego’s Bryan Walters returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, so it’s not like we’re done seeing big plays on kickoff returns.
But the new rule was designed to reduce the frequency of injuries caused by collisions on kickoff returns by reducing the frequency of kickoff returns themselves. That makes players like Cribbs less valuable, and it’s no surprise that players like Cribbs aren’t happy about it.