NFL approves new kickoff and ejection rules

AP photo

While the NFL may have totally made a mess of the new National Anthem policy, it looks like it might have done a little bit of good in regards to ejections and kickoffs.

The league and the owners approved new rules regarding the two as part of the NFL owners meetings going on right now.

For ejections, if a player lowers his helmet to make contact with another player and contact with the head was avoidable while making the play, that will result in either a 15-yard penalty or an ejection. It has not yet been determined how the league will enforce these rules, so the league will likely operate on a trial-and-error basis in the short term.

Kickoffs will also be different in 2018. In short, kickoffs will now look more like punt returns, which could create more scoring opportunities on these plays and limit the amount of contact initiated on them due to the kicking team not being allowed to get down the field as quickly as they have in the past.

Here are the new kickoff guidelines, per Pats Pulpit:

Kickoff Team must have 5 players on each side of the ball (5x5 alignment)

Kickoff team cannot line up more than 1 yard from restraining line (34-yard line for kickoff at 35)

At least 2 players must be lined up outside the yard-line number and 2 players between the inbounds line and the yard-line number

At least 8 players must be in 15-yard “setup zone” prior to the kickoff; only 3 players can remain outside of the setup zone

No wedge blocks are permitted. Only players who were initially lined up in the setup zone may come together in a double-team block

Until the ball is touched or the ball hits the ground, no player on the receiving team may cross its restraining line, or initiate a block against the kicking team in the 15-yard area from the kicking team’s restraining line.

The ball is dead if it is not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone (touchback)

The league will reportedly revisit this rule at the end of next season.

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