Tuesday, December 6, 2022

NFL, special teams coaches to consult on making punts safer

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“We’re going to be working with all the special team coaches,” Troy Vincent, the league’s govt vp of soccer operations, mentioned Monday on the NFL mix. “We really need to figure out that play, not just from an injury standpoint [but] penalties as well. But we have to break that down at every level — every block, every position — to see what we can come up [with] and do the analysis like we did a few years back on kickoffs.”

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Members of the NFL’s competitors committee met Monday morning with Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, in addition to different well being and security officers. Sills and different NFL well being officers mentioned throughout Super Bowl week that addressing the disproportionate damage dangers to gamers on punt performs was a prime precedence for this offseason. About one in six concussions and roughly 30 p.c of main knee accidents occurred on special teams, they mentioned.

The NFL addressed kickoffs in 2018, making rule modifications that included banning gamers on the kicking staff from getting a operating begin on their means downfield earlier than the ball is kicked and eliminating all types of “wedge” blocking by the receiving staff, when a number of blockers link collectively. Those rule adjustments dictated the place gamers may line up for kickoffs and barred hitting inside 15 yards of the spot of the kickoff.

Now the punt is in focus.

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“When we just think about where we were, it was the concussions at that particular time that we just said, ‘Hey, we have to do something,’ ” Vincent mentioned Monday. “The video showed: That play needs to be out of the game. That block needs to be out of the game. We have to go through that same kind of analysis. And I just remember pulling information back from 1937 and the evolution of the kickoff. We have to do the same thing with the punt play.”

Four years in the past, the league had threatened to get rid of kickoffs from the sport completely if the play couldn’t be made safer. Special teams coaches from a number of NFL teams had been introduced to the league workplaces in New York to talk about the problem and make ideas.

“The special teams coaches were critical,” Vincent mentioned. “They were critical at that time of figuring out what we can do to reduce injuries and reduce penalties.”

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It’s not instantly clear what rule adjustments may be proposed associated to punts.

Competition committee members additionally spent a part of their assembly Monday discussing final season’s enforcement of taunting as a degree of officiating emphasis.

“The taunting inside of sportsmanship is not new,” Vincent mentioned. “But we will talk about: Are we where we want to be? Because the coaches really pushed us in this direction a year ago, in particular the competition committee. Did we officiate it from the beginning to the end based off of their direction? … Sportsmanship has to be at the core. It has to be at the core of our game.”

Some gamers and different observers had been crucial of the crackdown. But many coaches and the league defended a strict enforcement of the beforehand current rule.

“It was officiated based off of what was shared with us on how the [competition] committee and the coaches wanted officiating to officiate,” Vincent mentioned. “So we’ll see if that philosophy has changed.”

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