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Cowboys KR KaVontae Turpin’s ‘value is going to skyrocket’ with new NFL kickoff rule

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By: Dana_Bartholomew

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

KaVontae Turpin’s value is increasing after new NFL kickoff changes.

The NFL kickoff has recently become a “go to the kitchen to grab another beer” type of play. Viewers could safely assume that they would return to the couch to see the offense start the drive from the 25-yard line. In fact, over 77% of kickoffs resulted in a touchback in the first eight weeks of the season last year making kickoffs pretty monotonous – a play where everyone just goes through the motions.

The NFL has historically changed the kickoff rules to protect players as a lot of injuries happen when you have players running down the field and colliding at full speed, but until now, the changes have been at the expense of thrilling entertainment. In order to balance excitement and safety, the NFL has now adopted the kickoff rules used by the XFL for the 2024 season with a slight modification.

The new kickoff rule has a lot of changes to it and is sure to look a lot different from kickoffs of the past. The biggest change is players no longer have the time and space to hit top speed, avoiding hard hitting collisions and making the play a whole lot safer. Safid Deen from USA today summarizes the new rule.

“Kickers will kick off from their own 35-yard line. The 10 other players from the kicking team will line up on the opposing team’s 40-yard line.

The receiving team will have at least nine players line up in the “setup zone” between the 35- and 30-yard lines. Two returners will be stationed in a landing zone, from the 20-yard line to the goal line.

No players (except the kicker and returners) can move until the ball is received by a returner.

Returners can return the football wherever it lands.

A touchback at the 20-yard line would occur if the ball touches the ground or player in the landing zone, rolls beyond the goal line and downed in the end zone.

A touchback could occur at the 30-yard line if the ball goes out of bounds behind the receiving team’s goal line, if it strikes the goalpost, or lands at or beyond the goal line and downed in the end zone.”

The major benefit for viewers is that kickoffs will be significantly more likely to be returned, as kicks outside of the “landing zone” will be punished by giving the returning team excellent field position. Kicks through the end zone result in the offense getting the ball at the 30-yard line, and kicks that land in front of the 20-yard line will give the offense the ball at the 40-yard line. The changes also allow the kick returner to catch the ball before the other team is allowed to move, possibly giving them more space and lanes to break through. This is especially appealing for kick returners like KaVontae Turpin who is explosive in open space. These changes have the ability to make him an even more powerful weapon on special teams. His special teams coach, John “Bones” Fassel, was one of the leaders spearheading this change and believes that “The kickoff returner value is going to skyrocket”.

Turpin is entering a contract year in 2024, and now with even more value placed on kick returners across the NFL, he has the opportunity to prove just how impactful he can be. In just a his first few years in the NFL, Turpin has already shown that he has the ability to return kicks to the house. In the 2022 preseason game against the Chargers, he returned not one, but two kicks for a touchdown – one a kickoff return for 98 yards and the other a punt return for 86 yards. By the end of the 2022 season, Turpin earned himself a trip to the Pro Bowl, averaging 24.2 yards on kick returns.

In the 2023 season, Turpin wasn’t afforded many opportunities to return kicks, largely because of the 2023 kickoff rules that favored more touchbacks. He was constrained by the fact that he only had 10 opportunities all season to return a kick. Even still, he averaged 29.2 yards per return. The one stand out was a house call punt return that was unfortunately called back due to penalty against the Rams in Week 8.

These new kickoff changes will undoubtedly bring more opportunities for returners to make huge plays in 2024, having a greater affect on the games as a whole. Turpin will have the ability to set the tone early in games giving Dak & co. excellent field position from the jump. There will also be more opportunities to swing momentum back in the Cowboys’ favor after opponents’ scoring plays. With all of the new excitement that may come with these new changes, fans should not want to miss a second of it. Beer should already be in hand and seats in a comfortable spot in front of the TV screen, ready to watch Turpin break a big one.

Originally posted on Blogging The Boys