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Dan Campbell ‘absolutely in favor’ of the NFL’s new kickoff format

The NFL approved a fairly radical change to the way kickoffs and kick returns will be handled this week. During the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando, the league effectively replaced the existing kickoff format and structure with the innovative kickoff and kick returns used by the XFL (now part of the UFL).

Effectively, the league is trying to bring back the excitement of the kick return while making it safer for players.

At his Tuesday morning press conference, Lions head coach Dan Campbell voiced strong support for the change.

“Absolutely in favor of it,” Campbell said when asked about the new kickoff. “Because it gives us a chance to play special teams.”

Campbell elaborated,

“What happened last year, felt like it took a significant amount of plays out of the game. And those were from special teams and, you know, you don’t really make it up anywhere else.”

The coach continued, focusing on the safety aspect of the new play.

“We put an emphasis on (kick return) and I believe in it. I think the argument is, ‘well, you’re bringing more plays back in so now injuries could (increase)’. Yeah, because there are more plays. But it feels like what we’ve done with it — it’s been so condensed that the impact is out of it. Doesn’t mean there won’t be an injury.”

In fact, Campbell expressed his excitement over the potential of exploiting the unknown. After noting that some are afraid of the unknown, he and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp see a big opportunity.

“Fipp and I have already been back there talking about — watching all these XFL clips and you’re looking at different body types and looking at returners and you’re look at scheme. I think the unknown is what the coaching is for. You mess with it, you tinker with it … I’m excited about it.”

The Lions haven’t had a kickoff return for a touchdown since Jamal Agnew took one to the house against the Eagles back in September of 2019. Detroit only attempted 19 returns on 83 kickoffs during the 2023 regular season. THe rule change should make that figure and percentage skyrocket in 2024.

 

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire