breaking news

Multiple victims in Chicago hospital shooting, reports say

Simmons, Bengals bracing for changes to kickoff rules


Cincinnati Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons doesn’t think the NFL needs to add any more rules to the kickoff, but he was happy to be a part of the panel discussing proposed changes last week in New York.

Simmons was one of nine special teams coordinators on the 50-person panel that also included four head coaches, four owners, five full-time officials, current players, former players and media representatives and a couple of competition committee members.

“They showed us a chronology of changes made in the league over the last 10 years, and it went from not many until now the changes just go through the roof,” Simmons said. “I don’t know that we’re on the right trajectory in terms of changes we’re making. We’re making a lot. I worry about that.

“I don’t want to change the fabric of what this game is,” he added. “That’s what we tried to stay away from with the rule changes we proposed. Let’s try to make them as subtle as we can.”

›› Spurred by anthem protests, NLFPA files grievance pointed at Bengals

While there has been speculation the league is considering banning the kickoff, Simmons said that was never discussed.

“Nobody wants to take the play out of the game because it’s too exciting of a play,” he said. “You eliminate the kickoff play, what’s next. Let’s say it’s third and 15 and the quarterback can’t throw the ball in the middle of the field to a receiver who’s running a seam because the safety could hit him.

“Sometimes I wonder if we’re doing the right things,” he continued. “Everybody wants to keep it safe, but it’s still what the game is. I think everybody is for keeping it as safe and as exciting as possible, which keeps an interest in the game instead of starting to go the other way, where it loses interest because there are all these changes all the time and then it becomes harder for everybody to understand and harder for everybody to follow.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page

The three rule change proposals the committee came up with will go to an owners vote at the spring meeting in Chicago on May 22. Approval from 24 of the 32 owners is needed to pass each proposal.

They are:

Re-aligning the kickoff team.

That means no more running starts for the coverage unit. Players can line up no deeper than 1 yard behind the ball, which in most cases is the 34-yard line.

This could lead to more returns because the coverage team will not be as far down the field when the ball is received. Or, as Simmons pointed out, it could lead to fewer returns because teams that were kicking short in an attempt to stop the returner from reaching the starting point for touchbacks (25-yard line) may reconsider and try for more touchbacks.

›› MORE: Bengals hope they have another mid-round steal in Brown

Re-aligning the return team.

Eight of the 11 players have to be between their own 40-yard line and the opponent’s 45 and no blocking is allowed until members of the kicking team reach the 50 (or 15 yards from the spot of the kick).

“So you can’t short set and attack block,” Simmons said. “That’s where a couple of the injuries were occurring, where those first-level blocks, where you take one step and attack a guy before the guy really has a chance to protect himself.”

No wedge blocking.

The league recently reduced a wedge to just two players with a third being no more than 2 yards away. The new proposal will eliminate wedges altogether, prohibiting two players to come together to form a wedge.

The proposed changes could put more of an emphasis on quicker, more athletic players while negating, or eliminating, the need for bigger and stronger blockers and coverage personnel.

›› Doubling down on cornerbacks could give Bengals special teams boost

“It’s a little bit to be seen,” Simmons said. “That was one of our concerns was you only have so many skill players active on game day. We could start running out of space players or skill players. You could see less of those big guys in both coverage and on the return teams. That’s where some of the injuries are occurring because the bigger guys have a physical advantage.”

Simmons said he doesn’t have a feel for how owners will vote on the proposals, but he’s proceeding as if all three will be passed.

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

“The timing could have been a lot sooner,” he said. “We’re in the middle of Phase II (of Offseason Team Activities, or OTAs). We’re getting ready to start Phase III, and these won’t even be voted on until May 22. We’ll be in the middle of Phase III by the time it gets voted in or out.

“We’re going to practice a lot of those things now just to introduce it and anticipate it could go through,” he added. “If it doesn’t go through, we’re back to the old stuff everyone is accustomed to doing anyway.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis: Receivers must fight through physical play
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis: Receivers must fight through physical play

Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday he is going to start asking the league questions about why defensive backs are grabbing hold of his receivers without penalty. It’s an issue media has been asking Bengals coaches about all season, but some no-calls potentially changed the outcome of Sunday’s 24-21 loss at Baltimore. Bengals...
Ohio State looking to match longest winning streak in Michigan series
Ohio State looking to match longest winning streak in Michigan series

The 115th football game between Ohio State and Michigan is set for Saturday in Columbus. Before the fourth-ranked Wolverines head south to take on the No. 10 Buckeyes, here are seven things to know about the history of college football’s most storied rivalry: The series began with a 34-0 Michigan win in 1897, and the Wolverines dominated the...
Cincinnati Reds: Manager David Bell adds two coaches to his staff
Cincinnati Reds: Manager David Bell adds two coaches to his staff

The Cincinnati Reds added to their coaching staff on Monday with the additions of J.R. House (third base/catching coach) and Donnie Ecker (assistant hiting coach). House and Ecker are the third and fourth members of new manager David Bell’s major league staff. Previously, Bell tapped pitching coach Derek Johnson and hitting coach Turner Ward...
Ohio State football: Buckeyes hoping to be close to healthiest for Michigan
Ohio State football: Buckeyes hoping to be close to healthiest for Michigan

Urban Meyer started Ohio State-Michigan with some good news: The Buckeyes should be healthy for the visit from the Wolverines.  He expects running back Mike Weber, who missed Ohio State’s win at Maryland with a quad bruise on Saturday, to be available this week.  Left tackle Thayer Munford, who was injured during the Maryland game,...
Bengals Report Card: Grading Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens
Bengals Report Card: Grading Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens

A week wasn’t enough for Marvin Lewis to completely turn around the defense, but the Cincinnati Bengals at least saw a little improvement in a 24-21 loss at Baltimore on Sunday. They didn’t give up 500 yards and 50 points, so that’s a start, right? Just not enough to avoid a loss in an important AFC North game. »RELATED: Rookie...
More Stories