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What to know about the new NFL Hybrid Kickoff rule, passed by owners at the Annual League Meeting

Another change going into effect for the 2024 NFL season is the new NFL Hybrid Kickoff rule, approved Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting.

During the meeting in Orlando, Florida, NFL owners voted in the proposal 29-3, according to NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay. This will be the most prominent rule change to kick returns and special teams since 1974, when the league moved the field position of the goal post and kickoffs. This comes after three rule changes were approved Monday morning.

The new rule will introduce a "landing zone," which will be the area between the receiving team's goal line and the 20-yard line. These changes include:

  • Any kick that hits short of the landing zone – treated like kickoff out of bounds and ball spotted at B40 yard line; play would be blown dead as soon as kick lands short of the landing zone
  • Any kick that hits in the landing zone - must be returned
  • Any kick that hits in the landing zone and then goes into the end zone – must be returned or downed by receiving team – if downed then touchback to B20 yard line
  • Kick hits in end zone, stays inbounds - returned or downed – if downed then touchback to B30 yard line
  • Any kick that goes out of the back of the end zone (in the air or bounces) – touchback to B30 yard line

The alignment of the kicking team and the receiving team is also modified. All kicking team players, except the kicker, will line up with one foot on the receiving team's 40-yard line. The kicker cannot cross the 50-yard line until the ball touches the ground or a player in landing zone or end zone. The 10 kicking team players also aren't allowed to move off the 40-yard line until the ball hits the ground or player in the landing zone or the end zone.

As for the receiving team, the "setup zone" will be a 5-yard area from the 35-yard line to the 30-yard line where at least 9 receiving team players must line up. A maximum of 2 returners may line up in the landing zone and can move at any time prior to, or during, the kick. Any player in the setup zone cannot move until the kick has hit the ground or a player in the landing zone or the end zone

The new rule change is similar to a format that was introduced by the XFL for one season. With the Competition Committee passing the changes for at least one year, the league has optimism it will make the game safer as a whole.

"I think it'll be a big improvement," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "I think it will bring the play back into [being] a relevant play, an important play and an exciting play. And I think we can do it where the injury rate will drop."

The Las Vegas Raiders and Southern Nevada Ford Dealers partnered up to host the Nevada Boys & Girls Club's Youth of the Year Celebration, with winners moving on to represent Nevada at the Pacific Regional.

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