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NFL teams weighing the risks of exposing kickers to more tackles under new kickoff rule

The new kickoff rule is expected to result in more kickoff returns, including more long kickoff returns where the kicker is the last man standing between the returner and the end zone. Which means kickers may have to tackle more than ever before.

As a result, some teams are considering having a non-kicker handle kickoffs. Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub has said he might let safety Justin Reid handle kickoffs, because Reid has shown a strong kicking leg and is much more capable of making tackles than Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker.

Rams special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn, however, has his doubts that a position player will be able to accurately kick the ball between the 20-yard line and the goal line, as kickers need to do under the new rule.

"You don't want your kicker making a ton of tackles," Blackburn said. "You don't want a guy to get hurt, so there's a little thought that goes into it. But if it's short of the 20 or out of bounds the ball's going 25 yards from the spot of the kick, so it's going to the 40-yard line, you don't want that. I'd say there's not too many position players you can bank on."

Broncos coach Sean Payton similarly said he would be wary of letting a position player kick off. And Blackburn raised the possibility of just putting the kicker on the field and telling him to drill the ball out the back of the end zone, even though the new rule gives the receiving team the ball at the 30-yard line on a touchback.

"I think the risk-reward of putting a guy who can't put the ball consistently inside the 20-yard line where you want it, or even hit a touchback if that's the goal, I think that's really what you're looking at," Blackburn said.

It's a new rule that everyone is trying to get a handle on, and the teams whose special teams coordinators have their players fully prepared in Week One are going to be at a big advantage.