NFL officials will be in Dallas for a clinic this weekend and the work done to get them ready to call the league’s new rules regarding helmet use will be a major topic.
It’s not the only big rules change in store for the 2018 season, however. The league has also revised the rules for kickoffs to alter where players line up prior to the kick, eliminate wedge blocking and change when players on the return team are allowed to initiate blocks.
Former NFL referee Terry McAulay, who retired this offseason and took a rules analyst job with NBC, will attend the clinic and said that potential issues implementing the kickoff changes shouldn’t be downplayed.
“It isn’t getting as much press, but the kickoff change, this may be the biggest change I’ve ever seen,” McAulay said, via ESPN.com. “People know so little about it. There are so many restrictions on what either side of the ball can do. … I spoke with a special-teams coordinator who is excited about it, and I know we all feel it can be great for the game. But [officials] have to wait and see. There are a lot of intricate rules in terms of what [players] can and cannot do.”
The NFL preseason starts on August 2 when the Bears and Ravens face off in the Hall of Fame Game. That contest and the exhibition games to follow will provide the first hints about how the new-look kickoffs will be officiated this season.