Eagles ST coordinator Michael Clay: We have to use new kickoff return as a weapon

Teams have moved into the on-field phases of their offseason programs and that means they will start getting to work on how they will approach kickoffs under the new rules adopted by the NFL this offseason.

Eagles special teams coordinator Michael Clay said at a press conference on Thursday that special teams is "all about adapting to new things" and that "we don't know what it's going to look like" once games start up in the preseason and the fall. That means they will be looking at different options at returner as part of a process of "trial and error" that will produce their final plan.

While there are a lot of unknowns at this point, Clay has enough knowledge to know that the team has to maximize the opportunities provided by the new rules.

"I think, when you really peel back this whole thing, it's still kickoff, kickoff return," Clay said, via a transcript from the team. "In terms of, okay, you're a non-returner, we've still got to be fundamentally sound when we're blocking. We do have a couple of good returners back there. We have to use this new kickoff return as a weapon. Vice versa on kickoff coverage, you've still got to go cover these opponent teams, these opposite teams of stopping them with some good returners. So it's still going to go back to day one install of, hey, this is our kickoff coverage overview, this is our kickoff return overview. This is what we expect out of this unit. Again, I think, when you do have a couple of good returners, it takes the other nine guys to really lock in and be able to use this as a weapon."

It's a safe bet that the league's other 31 teams view the new rule the same way and seeing how everything plays out on the field will be one of the most intriguing things to watch early in the regular season.