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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Small Changes Will Transform the Role of NFL Kickers

HARTFORD, Connecticut -- The headlines out of Orlando, Florida, last week shrieked of change: "NFL Adopts Two-Point Conversion."


But college football's 36-year experience with the two-point conversion after touchdowns -- and the snide, low-key reaction of NFL coaches at the league meetings -- suggest the new rule is merely window dressing.


Concerned that the game was growing static and stale, the league made several changes to open it up. Oddly enough, the changes that were overlooked -- adjustments in the kicking game -- will have the most profound influence.


"Speaking as a kicker, I can tell you it's going to be a whole new ball game," Giants kicker Brad Daluiso said. "I'm just not sure it's a change for the better."


Daluiso was talking on his car phone, heading to a golf match in San Diego. Kickers don't spend as much time pumping iron as other players, so Daluiso has had a lot of time to think about all this. Maybe too much.


For those who didn't read the fine print, kickoffs will now come from the 30-yard line rather than the 35, which should decrease touchbacks and increase returns. The kicking tees have been chopped from 3 inches to 1 inch, which will cut down on hang time.


Also, missed field goals will be marked at the spot of the kick, rather than the line of scrimmage. This means an additional penalty of 7-8 yards for the kicking team, which will cut down on field goal attempts longer than 45 yards and encourage teams to go for it on fourth down.


Daluiso happens to be the NFL player most likely to be affected by the changes. Only two teams kept two kickers on their rosters last season; the Giants used David Treadwell for most field goals and the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Daluiso for kickoffs and field goal attempts longer than 49 yards. When Patriots coach Bill Parcells lost faith in rookie Scott Sisson's ability to kick short field goals, he hired Matt Bahr.


If the new rules had been in effect, Daluiso probably would have been called on for only one of his three field goal attempts last season. The Giants wouldn't have tried the 50- and 52-yard field goals he missed. But they still would have tried the 54-yarder with 32 seconds left that beat Phoenix, 19-17.


Daluiso said the new kickoff rules probably won't have the desired effect.


"They took a play they thought was too boring and made it, maybe, more boring," Daluiso said.


Meaning?


"I saw where (Giants coach) Dan Reeves said that if he saw (Dallas returner) Kevin Williams back there and we're kicking from the 30, we'll just squib the ball away from him. Yeah, I'm serious. Coaches will tell kickers just to squib it away from the dangerous returners or just kick it out of bounds."


Daluiso said he thinks 80 percent of the touchbacks will be eliminated because only he and a few other kickers, such as New Orleans' Morten Andersen, are capable of kicking the ball 70 yards in the air off a 1-inch tee.