NFL Preseason

Will the NFL's new rules save the kickoff from extinction? The league sure hopes so.

Will the NFL's new rules save the kickoff from extinction? The league sure hopes so.

To most of the football-watching public, not much is different about kickoffs during this NFL preseason. The play still looks fundamentally the same, as kickers launch footballs toward distant goal lines, and would-be tacklers race down the field with varying degrees of abandon in search of speedy returners.

But to a small group of the most interested observers, including NFL rulemakers and special teams coaches, kickoffs are different this summer. Those rulemakers and many of those coaches collaborated this past offseason to design a new set of rules for this NFL season intended to make the play safer and, if all goes as planned, prevent the sport's leaders from considering the...

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