The NFL's New Kickoff Rules, Explained

The NFL instituted five new rules to make kickoffs safer in 2018. 
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The NFL will institute a new set of kickoff rules this season in an attempt to limit concussions and increase safety during the play. 

The new rules were agreed to in May. The new rules won't look to increase touchbacks or decrease returns but they will alter the look of kickoffs for viewers at home and in the stands.

Below are the five new kickoff rules you need to know heading into the 2018-19 NFL season.

No running start:

Kicking teams will no longer be allowed to sprint to the 35-yard-line before the ball is booted to the receiving team. All kickoff coverage members must be stationary before the ball is kicked. 

"Setup zone" created: 

The league will require eight of the 11 return men to line up within 15 yards of the ball. Taking away the number of players near the central kickoff returners should reduce the speed and frequency of violent collisions in the open field. 

No blocking in setup zone: 

Blocking in the setup zone will not be allowed until the ball is caught or hits the ground. Blockers for the return team will be forced to retreat once the ball is kicked, then engage with defenders once the ball is received.

End of the wedge:

Once a specialty of return teams across the league, the NFL has elminiated wedge blocks, in which players form a connected blocking brigade in front of the return man. The league moved to allowing only two-man wedges in 2009, now outlawing them altogether in 2018. 

Evened spacing: 

Kickoff teams must have at least five men on each side of the ball. The league instituted this policy in attempt to create free coverage runners downfield.