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NFL looking at ways to cut down number of injuries on punts

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Chris Simms takes a look back at the 2021 NFL Draft class following their rookie seasons to pick which players proved him wrong, who still has some work to do, and his picks for potential Year 2 breakout stars.

The NFL expressed concern earlier this month about the “disproportionate number of concussions” occurring on kickoffs and punts and that concern is fueling exploration of ways to bring that number down.

After moves intended to make kickoffs safer in recent years, punts are the specific focus of the league this offseason. The league’s Competition Committee met with health and safety officials at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Monday and NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said that the league will also be consulting with special teams coaches about ways to make changes to punts.

“We really need to figure out that play, not just from an injury standpoint [but] penalties as well,” Vincent said, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “But we have to break that down at every level — every block, every position — to see what we can come up [with] and do the analysis like we did a few years back on kickoffs.”

The rule changes for kickoffs involved where players line up and how they are allowed to block during returns, but it’s unclear exactly what path the league will take on punts at this point.