The league owners voted to pass two rule changes Wednesday that will be seen as one-year experiments.
The first rule is something that has been covered extensively and was expected to pass — automatic ejection of a player who receives two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game. Coaches were opposed to the automatic ejection penalty, but owners seem to like the idea.
The second rule that passed will essentially eliminate the need for teams to return kickoffs. The league has moved the touchback from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line. Making kickoff returns safer is something the league has been focused on for a while, and this is perhaps the biggest change.
In 2012, the NCAA moved the kickoff to the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line (something the NFL did in 2011) and made the same 25-yard line touchback rule. It’s difficult to compare the NCAA to the NFL considering the wide range of talent among kickers and returners, but after one year touchbacks increased from 15.2 percent to 34.8 percent.
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