In the Hall of Fame Game in August, the Bears will be part of the first play under the NFL’s new kickoff rule.
No one’s sure what it’ll look like.
“It’ll be different to see if we’re doing it different than the other team, even if the stances are different,” kicker Cody Parkey said Wednesday.
An example the Bears can emulate came in the 2016 Senior Bowl, where assistant special teams coach Brock Olivo said, “You can almost see the exact kickoff return formation” that the NFL codified last week. Still, it’s not much help.
“We have our ideas,” Olivo said, “but we don’t know what to expect.”
Citing a study that showed concussions are five times more likely on kickoffs, the league ruled kicking teams can no longer get a running start and must have at least five players on either side of the ball. Two players must line up outside the numbers, two between the hashes.
Eight return-team players must be placed in a 15-yard “setup zone,” and wedge blocks are illegal.
“I think the new parameters we have in there are going to limit some of the high-speed collisions,” special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said. “And at the same time still have the dynamic part of the returners and setting field position.”
Tabor doesn’t think safety concerns will eventually kill the kickoff. He applauded the league, after consulting special teams coaches, for choosing to modify the play.
“I couldn’t imagine turning on the television and saying, ‘They spot the ball at the 25,’ and then just start playing football,” he said.
Coach Matt Nagy said he has seen receiver Kevin White make progress during the three-week organized team activity period. The receiver is staying after practice to work on his routes.
“He wants to be a really good wide receiver,” Nagy said. “When you have somebody that has that want, we as coaches need to give him every opportunity to succeed.”
This and that
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman left practice early with a heat-related issue, but Nagy said he was fine.
— Tabor hinted that rookie punter Ryan Winslow could provide competition for Pat O’Donnell’s starting job. One skill he’ll be watching: how both hold on field-goal tries.