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What the new kickoff rule means for Texans

The controversial “swivel hip drop tackle” ban wasn’t the only new rule change to come out of the annual NFL owners’ meeting this week. The league approved a rule in an attempt to revive the kickoff.

Kickoffs will now feature alignments for both teams.

The kicking team’s kicker would still line up at the 35-yard line, but the other 10 players would set up at their 40-yard line. At least seven of the receiving teams’ players would line up in the “set up zone” between their own 30- and 35-yard line. A maximum of two players from the receiving team would line up the line “landing zone” between their goal line and the 20-yard line.

If the kick goes out of bounds or lands outside the “landing zone,” the receiving team will get the ball at the 40-yard line. If the kick lands inside the zone, the receiving team will field the kickoff. A touchback would put the ball at the 30-yard line.

The two teams also couldn’t begin to run at each other until the ball gets to a returner.

The NFL will try this new rule for the 2024 season on a one-year trial. It was used in the XFL previously.

The Texans boasted one of the best special teams unit in the NFL this past season under coordinator Frank Ross. Houston ranked No. 1 in yards per kickoff with 26.7 and had the most kickoff return touchdowns with two. The Texans also allowed the 10th-fewest yards per kickoff at 21.9.

It will be interesting to see how this not only affects the special teams unit, but how kickers attempt kickoffs as well. Ka’imi Fairbairn finished 30th in kickoff yards for the Texans in 12 games this past season and 34th in touchbacks.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire