Ravens like new NFL kickoff rules; Jackson, club extend sympathy after Key Bridge collapse

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens coach John Harbaugh lauded the NFL for tweaking the rules for kickoffs next season.

The NFL owners adopted a low-impact kickoff modeled on what had been used in the XFL. The league hopes the change will increase the number of returns on kickoffs while decreasing the number of injuries, especially concussions.

“The thing about that I really appreciate about [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell is that the passion and the determination to get the kickoff back into the game [and] to keep the game as exciting as it can possibly be,” Harbaugh said. “The kickoff return has been around for a long time in football. I’m passionate about that myself. I think for Roger to be championing that and getting behind that and to be exploring every opportunity to keep the kickoff return in the game [and] make it exciting, that’s what I’m happy about. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Under the new rule, 10 players on the kicking team and at least nine members on the receiving team will line up just five yards apart. The players are not allowed to begin running until the ball gets back to the returner, which will should slow the speed and lessen the impact during the play.

Only the kicker and one or two kickoff returners will line up separately from the players who are five yards apart.

The kicker will kick the ball from his 35-yard line. Ten of his teammates will line up on the other team’s 40-yard line. The receiving team’s nine or 10 blockers will line up on their 35-yard line. The kick must fall between the 20-yard line and the goal line.

A kick that goes out of bounds or is short of the 20-yard line will be awarded to the receiving team at the 40. A kick that sails into the end zone for a touchback will go to the receiving team’s 30-yard line.

There is a concern about the transition to the different alignments of the new rule.

However, Harbaugh was not worried about the change

“That’s the thing, it’s always in the details, and that’s the challenge we’re going to have right now with that,” he said. “The line of scrimmage is a big part of football. It’s been around for quite a while, and that play takes the line of scrimmage out of it, so it’s a drastic kind of move that’s going to be way different if it gets passed than what we’ve seen on the kickoff and kickoff return in the past. It’s just a different kind of a football play.

“I just appreciate that we’re exploring every option up to that point to where we have to make that kind of a move. Is that the right move at this time? I don’t know. I think that’s to be determined. I’m confident that we’ll come to a good conclusion.”

The rule was changed on a one-year trial, so it will be up for a vote again next year.

Overall, there has been positive feedback with the change.

“It was well received. The part that’s well received is the idea that we want to get [kickoff] returns back,” Harbaugh said. “Everybody wants to get returns back. Everybody’s on the same page with that. How you go about doing that, there’s a lot of questions because it’s a big change. I think there are just a lot of questions.”

Support for bridge collapse

The state of Maryland is reeling over the collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday.

A container ship crashed into one of the bridge’s pillars, which caused a large portion of the structure to collapse into the Patapsco River.  At least six construction workers were believed to have been repairing the roadway at the time of the collapse, and several vehicles also were believed to have fallen into the frigid water.

The ship’s crew reportedly warned of a power outage before hitting the bridge. State and federal officials are investigating the incident.

The Ravens issued a statement about the tragedy on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the horrific Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse early this morning. We know that the Baltimore community will stand together in the aftermath of this tragic event.”

In addition, quarterback Lamar Jackson posted on X: “For the people and their families that was apart of the collapsing Bridge in Baltimore my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you all…”


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