Sean Payton envisions a lot more plays and touchdowns from new kickoff – NBC Sports

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The NFL has made massive alterations to the kickoff play. With teams getting deeper into the offseason program, they’re working more and more on getting ready for this significant change.

Significant might not be the right term.

“Significant is a modest word for that,” Broncos coach Sean Payton told reporters on Saturday. “I think all of us here, you guys asking the questions, myself answering them, this is going to be — we’re excited about it. Every team like us right now is going through the ‘what ifs’ and the landing zones. Then I think most importantly, who’s doing it different than who did it a year ago, because it’s a completely different play.”

One big difference will come from the ability of the return specialists to get the ball in their hands.

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“The two deep backs are going to have to have good ball skills, a little bit of a shortstop, third baseman, if you will, because we’re not just going to get these easy to catch high kicks anymore,” Payton said. “We’re going to get these shots in the gaps, if you will. If it gets through our group and into the end zone, we’re on the 20-yard line. If it goes out of bounds, obviously we’re on the 40, or if it’s short. So I think it creates a unique skillset for the returners.”

Different bodies will be used for other parts of the play.

“Then I do think the coverage and blocking units will get a little bit bigger because we’re reducing the amount of space we’re running in,” Payton said. “But from a scheme standpoint then, I think it’ll be — I don’t know what the average touchdown — it’s been a while — but you might get a couple a year [per team]. You’re going to get double-digit touchdown returns [throughout the league]. You’re going to see a lot more plays, and I think that was the intention of the rule.”

It truly is the biggest single change the NFL has made in years, possibly since adding the two-point conversion in 1994. It resurrects and revives in one fell swoop a play the NFL systematically had been smothering with a pillow.

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