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Devin Duvernay was a wise investment for Jaguars with new kickoff rule

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By: Adam Stites

Just a couple weeks ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars wasted no time signing former Baltimore Ravens return specialist Devin Duvernay to a two-year, $8.5 million contract. It wasn’t exactly a costly addition, but it already looks like a wise and prescient investment.

On Tuesday, the NFL passed a new kickoff rule with two key goals: less injuries and more returns. Here’s everything you need to know:

  • The kicking team will kick off from its own 35-yard line.
  • 10 members of the kicking team will line up on the receiving team’s 40-yard line (25 yards in front of their kicker).
  • A minimum of nine members of the receiving team will line up between their own 30- and 35-yard lines (five-to-10 yards in front of the 10 members of the kicking team).
  • The receiving team can have zero, one or two players inside their own 30-yard line to receive the kickoff.
  • The play begins when the ball is either caught, hits the ground in the landing zone (inside the 20-yard line before the goal line) or is returned from the end zone. That’s when players can begin moving.
  • Any kick that hits the landing zone must be returned.
  • Any kick that bounces from the landing zone into the end zone must be returned or kneeled for a touchback (with possession going out to the 20-yard line).
  • If a kick doesn’t reach the landing zone, the receiving team gets possession at its 40-yard line.
  • If the ball enters the end zone in the air, the receiving team can return it or kneel it for possession at its 30-yard line.
  • If the ball is kicked out of bounds, the receiving team gets possession at its 40-yard line.
  • There are no fair catches.
  • Onside kicks are only permitted in the fourth quarter and must be declared to officials.

All of that translates to a play that looks a little something like this:

There’s not much incentive for kicking teams to boot it into the end zone and there’s every reason to expect Duvernay to get a ton of opportunities to make plays.

In Baltimore, Duvernay twice earned Pro Bowl honors and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. For the relatively low cost of $4.25 million per season, the Jaguars added arguably the best player in the NFL at a position that suddenly looks significantly more valuable.

Jacksonville’s moves to bring back special teamers Daniel Thomas and Caleb Johnson also aged well, as it’ll be important to have gunners capable of getting down the field and bottling up opposing returners.

Originally posted on Jaguars Wire