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NFL considers kickoffs at 35-yard line, touchbacks to 25-yard line

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions

DETROIT - JANUARY 03: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears runs with the football against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 3, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Bears defeated the Lions 37-23. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

Mark Cunningham

Significant changes on kickoffs are coming to the NFL in 2011 if the NFL’s Competition Committee gets its way.

Falcons President and Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay revealed on a conference call with the media today that the Competition Committee is proposing a major modification of kickoffs, moving the kickoff back to the 35-yard line instead of the 30, and giving the receiving team the ball at the 25-yard line, instead of the 20, if there’s a touchback.

In other words, it will be easier for the kicker to boot the ball into the end zone, and there will be greater incentive for the return man to stay in the end zone instead of running it out.

The Competition Committee is also proposing the elimination of all forms of the wedge block, including the two-man wedge, and requiring players on the kickoff team to line up between the 30-yard line and the 35-yard line. All of these changes, the Competition Committee believes, will cut down on injuries on kickoffs.

“The injury rate on kickoffs remains a concern for us,” McKay said.

One thing that will not change is what happens after a kickoff goes out of bounds: The Competition Committee’s proposal is still for the receiving team to get the ball on the 40-yard line.

All Competition Committee proposals will be voted on by the owners at next week’s NFL Annual Meeting.