Dallas Cowboys star KaVontae Turpin has insisted that he will not take any fair catches after plans to change kickoff return rule emerged this week.
News emerged this week that the NFL competition committee is looking to make a change to the rule on kickoff returns. At the moment, all fair catches made on returns are then placed at the spot of the catch for the next play.
However, under the new rules, all fair catches would immediately be placed at the 25 yard line. Changes to kickoff returns have gradually been made over the years in a bid to reduce the risk of players getting injured, in particular suffering head injuries or concussions.
Were the NFL to bring in this change then it would decrease the incentive for players to attempt to make a return. However, in the case of Turpin, that may not happen.
The Cowboys’ return specialist and wide receiver was asked by Patrik Walker for his stance on the new proposed rule. Turpin stated that he does not plan to take any fair catches even if the rules are changed.
“I don’t care because I’m not fair catching nothing,” said Turpin. “I’m being real with you — nothing.”
After a vote on Tuesday at the annual Spring meeting, the new rule was approved by NFL owners on a one-year trial basis. This was despite special teams coordinators being unanimously against the changes, due to it potentially removing elements of strategy from the game.
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Chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, Rich McKay, explained the reasons for the change earlier this week. McKay said the reduction in head injuries is a key factor in the new ruling.
“The kickoff play for us has been a play that has had a lot of changes for us over the years, all really driven by health and safety,” McKay told NFL Network. “The concussion rate on the play has gone up. It’s gone up because the ball is being returned more by kicks that are being hung inside the 5-yard line.
“College made this rule change in maybe 2018 or 2019. We looked at their data and said, you know what, this is the right thing to do now.”
Modelling has reportedly predicted the kickoff return rate will decrease from 38 percent to 31 percent with the new ruling. As a result, this will see the concussion rate will drop by 15 percent.
McKay said he had sympathy with the special teams coordinators, who were said to be opposed to the changes. “It’s never easy for special teams coaches,” McKay added.
“They’ve coached it a certain way, they think they have an advantage, so they’re not gonna be happy with changes like this, but the changes needed to be made because, in our mind, we have the data that said it should be made.”
The competition committee chair has also addressed why it will initially be a trial run. “In our mind, this is a rule that needed to be passed. We needed to pass it for one year, see what the data is and consider what the future of the kickoff was.”