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NFL Kickoff Rule Changes Could Diminish Roles Of Eric Weems, Michael Koenen

The NFL Competition Committee, headed by Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, has enacted a series of rule changes for the upcoming NFL season, should it ever actually happen. All scoring plays will be subject to booth review, no NFL team may use a color besides green for its turf (the Boise State rule!), and kickoffs will now be launched from the 35-yard line, not the 30. 

The last will have more impact on the Falcons than any of the others, as the Birds were able to build a special teams advantage of late thanks to Michael Koenen's touchback talent and Eric Weems' Pro Bowl year, which included a postseason kickoff runback.

Koenen ranked fourth in the league in touchbacks last year with 23, by far outpacing all other kickoff-prone punters. A decreased emphasis on kickoff skills could mean the team's kicker (or Kroy Biermann!) could handle the duties, which would perhaps give Koenen more time to concentrate on, uh, punting.

And less of a playing field for Weems, who finished second among all players with 25 or more kick returns, might mean the specialist will have to devote more time to receiving drills if he wants to remain an impact player.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.