In the last few years, the NFL’s emphasis on reducing injuries on kickoffs has focused primarily on incentivizing teams to go for touchbacks, rather than returns. This year’s rule changes are different.
NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Troy Vincent said on PFT Live the rules passed yesterday, which include eliminating running starts and limiting where players can line up, will actually result in more kickoff returns.
“This will encourage more kickoff returns and a more explosive play,” Vincent said.
So how could more returns result in fewer injuries? Vincent said it’s all about limiting the number of high-speed collisions right at the start of the play, which Vincent believes the new restrictions will reduce.
“What our data has said is most of those head injuries occurred up in that first 15 yards, which we call the no-blocking zone,” he said. “We believe it will reduce some of the unnecessary risk that we’ve seen in the past.”
Vincent said the kickoff should be a more integral part of football this season, saying, “We think it’s a better play today.”