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Will the NFL’s New Kickoff Gamble Pay Off? A Second Chance for Faded Stars

The National Football League has adopted new kickoff rules this offseason and the majority of the takes regarding the change have been positive.

The New York Jets decided to take it a step further and specifically signed a veteran athlete to their roster who has been explosive when healthy. The addition of former Bears running back/ return specialist Tarik Cohen has caught social media by surprise. Many believe this move for the Jets is positive, while others believe Cohen, who hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2020 due to injuries, is a very risky move and a wasted spot on the depth chart.

While there are points to be made with either take, one thing is for certain — the new NFL kickoff rules will bring more opportunities to score or earn better field position. Jets head coach Robert Saleh even went as far as mentioning how the new rules will give the team’s kick returners the ball over 100 times this season. In comparison, last year the Green Bay Packers had a league high 31 kick returns.

Providing a second chance for veteran athletes who may have faded due to injuries, is exactly what this new rule brings to organizations and the league. The question will remain if the gamble will pay off; however, this is not only going to be more entertaining for fans watching the games, but it also is proven to be a more safe approach for the athletes.

In the coming weeks as we head into training camp, more and more NFL teams will look for old time explosive veterans to try out for their kickoff return units. Lions special teams coordinator Dave Fipp is exploring new ways to succeed.

According to a post on the official Lions team website by senior writer Tim Twentyman, Fipp discussed the new rules and how they are experimenting with it this time of the year. “There’s a lot of things that are new. This time of year we’re trying to experiment as much as we can, obviously. And putting our guys in a bunch of different situations, both in schemes, positionally on the field, alignments, how we’re trying to play the play, mindset, mentality of it.”

Even though the Lions and the Jets are thinking of new ways to implement this new special teams rule, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson is taking it even a step further and has quite the critical take on the new league implementation. He said, “I’m used to kicking it as high as I can, as hard as I can,” McPherson added. “Now I have to throw it inside to the 5-yard line in specific areas. It’s definitely an adjustment. You have to play the wind a lot more now.”

McPherson and other NFL kickers will have to adjust as well.

Ultimately, this new kickoff setup could bring a second chance for many former stars in the league who have dealt with injuries or are on the backend of their careers. It will be very interesting and exciting to see how more teams begin to finalize their units and how they are going to succeed at a high level as we head into the 2024 NFL season.


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