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NFL owners extend trial period for touchbacks to 25

kickoff

NFL kickoffs never will be the same.

If that wasn’t clear before Tuesday, it certainly appears so now.

Owners approved a one-year extension to a rule that temporarily was enacted in 2016, the league announced. The rule change follows what the NCAA introduced in 2012: Following a touchback, the line of scrimmage is the 25-yard line instead of the 20. Last season saw the touchback frequency spike from the 5-yard incentive, an effect the league sought in the name of player safety.

This temporary rule soon may become permanent.

Another year of similar data could do the trick.

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said last week that 39.3 percent of kickoffs were returned last season, the “lowest rate of return in NFL history.”