Last week, NFL fans learned of two proposed rule changes that would be up for a vote at this week's NFL Annual Meetings. The first was one I felt was coming at some point in the future: kickoffs will be moved up by five yards to the 35 yard line in an attempt to minimize the high risk of violent collisions on special teams. Touchbacks will however remain at the 20 yard line rather than the 25 as was proposed. Two-man wedges will also continue to be allowed, another provision that was nixed.â†µ
The other proposal was to allow the replay official to review all scoring plays at any time during games rather than just under two minutes in the half or fourth quarter. Both passed on Tuesday during the owners meetings. One provision of the instant replay proposal was not included in the changes however. Coaches will still be able to challenge a third time during games provided they win the first two challenges. We'll see if games become noticeably longer under the new rules, or if the flow of the game is adversely affected in any way.
Back to the kickoff changes briefly. Speedy specialists around the league must be furious. Guys like Devin Hester or Stefan Logan who earn their keep primarily as return men on special teams will see their impact on the game minimized by the change. On the flip slide, kickers like Shaun Suisham and Jeff Reed must be pleased to hear this news as their shortcomings on kickoffs will be partially negated by the five yard change.â†µ