New NFL rule will diminish excitement

New York Jets tight end Matthew Mulligan misses the pass as he is covered by Texans linebacker Tim...

New York Jets tight end Matthew Mulligan misses the pass as he is covered by Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins earlier this week. (RICHARD CARSON/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:38 PM ET

TORONTO - We’re all for player safety, limiting concussions and all, but not if the game takes — pardon the pun — a big hit in the process.

For those that missed it, the league has mandated that teams now kick from their 35-yard line, rather than their 30.

Yes, the new kickoff rules will limit injuries and are good for players in the long run and nobody can argue that is a bad thing, but is it worth it if it fundamentally changes the game?

That’s harder to quantify.

Kickoff returns are among the most thrilling plays in all of sports, but we’re going to see a lot less of them now that most competent kickers can hoof the ball through the end zone.

That could mean less scoring and it definitely will mean less excitement.

New England coach Bill Belichick seems to think this is the first step of the elimination of kickoffs altogether.

“That’s what they told us,” Belichick told CSNNE.com on Tuesday.

“I’m not speaking for anyone else. That’s what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play.”

Of course the NFL, through spokesman Greg Aiello, denied Belichick’s claim.

“(Competition committee chairman) Rich McKay and (NFL vice-president) Ray Anderson say that’s not accurate,” Aiello replied to the site.

“They said the competition committee’s position was that they wanted to ‘shorten the field’ and that the movement of the kickoff line would potentially reduce the number of kickoffs to be returned. They said they are unaware of anyone saying that it was intended to ‘eliminate’ the kickoff return.”

Belichick added that a reduction or eventual elimination of kickoffs will have a drastic impact on roster selection with more emphasis obviously being placed on punt and punt return personnel.

“Usually you’re going to be returning more kickoffs than punts but if you think you’ll be returning more punts than kickoffs, then maybe you put more of a priority on your punt returner than your kickoff returner,” Belichick said.

Kickoffs are quite dangerous, but surely there is a better way to make the game safer without changing it for the worse.

No word on Maclin

The Eagles were expected to clarify the status of receiver Jeremy Maclin on Tuesday but it didn’t happen.

Maclin’s brother had said earlier in the week that good news was on the way. Maclin has missed camp due to an unexplained viral illness.

Eagles coach Andy Reid didn’t say anything about Maclin other than: “There’s still some hours left in the day,” indicating that a statement was still forthcoming.

Bad news for Broncos

Denver might have lost defensive tackle Ty Warren for the season. Warren missed all of 2010 while with New England because of a hip injury and tore his triceps on Tuesday, a significant blow to Denver’s shaky defensive line. Warren got injured not long after fellow defensive tackle Marcus Thomas strained his right pectoral muscle .

The Broncos also lost running back LenDale White, but at least they made the call on that one, releasing the former college standout. He never played for the team after tearing his Achilles last pre-season.

Quick hits

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears were interested in Buffalo castoff Aaron Maybin and were expected to put in a waiver claim on him on Tuesday. However, it seems that didn’t come to pass as the 4 p.m. waiver claim deadline came and went without any news leaking out about a new home for Maybin, making him an unrestricted free agent ... Hall of fame former Philadelphia wide receiver Pete Pihos has died. Pihos led the league in receptions from 1953-55 and caught a number of big touchdown passes. He was 87 ...Cincinnati has released defensive tackle Tank Johnson and tight end Garrett Mills ... The Jets will be without offensive lineman Rob Rutner for 8-10 weeks after he broke his leg ... Washington will turn to John Beck to start on Friday even though Rex Grossman played well last week. The Redskins know what they have in Grossman, for better or worse, and are hoping Beck can establish himself ... Ex-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was at Cleveland’s training camp. Tressel resigned in the midst of a scandal but apparently still has a few fans in Ohio, including Browns president Mike Holmgren. Might he be joining the team? We’ll have to see ... Safety Deon Grant has re-signed with the New York Giants claiming he wants to match up with the loaded Eagles ... Defensive end Tyler Brayton has signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Brayton has 151/2 sacks in eight seasons and is a former first round pick ... Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor has undergone surgery to fix his broken left thumb. Taylor only expects to miss the rest of the pre-season ... Redskins coach Mike Shanahan thinks James Davis, who walked out on the team on Monday, is going to retire ... Jacksonville always seems to have attendance problems and is a front-runner to be the team that moves to Los Angeles in a few years. The team is again short of a sellout, 5,000 short in fact and Mayor Alvin Brown is now e-mailing fans trying to get them to buy tickets.


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