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Chiefs contemplating using DB Justin Reid as kickoff specialist under new rules

The new kickoff format has coaches in every NFL building flipping the switch on their creativity engines.

Justin Fields as a returner? Justin Reid as a kickoff specialist? Sure, why not? It's a new era; nothing is off limits!

The Chiefs are seriously considering the latter, according to special teams coordinator Dave Toub, who detailed his logic by first pointing to what he doesn't want his usual kicker, Harrison Butker, doing on the kickoff.

"I like to have somebody who can go back and is able to make a tackle," Toub explained Thursday. "(Harrison) Butker is able to make a tackle, but I really don't want him making tackles all year long. If you watch the XFL, we watched every play, I bet kickers were involved in at least 25 to 40 percent of the tackles. In either trying to make a guy bounce back or making the tackle himself, or just missing the tackle. We don't want Butker in that situation. But he will be a kicker.

"He will be a guy that we use in certain situations. He's got a lot of ability to move the ball whereas those other guys may not be apt to do that. … He can still a touchback if we need it. You're just giving up the ball. If we do kick a touchback out of the back of the end zone, now they're getting the ball at the 30 instead of the 25. So that 5 yards makes a big difference. That's another three percent chance you're giving the offense to score."

Reid, on the other hand, "can go down there and make tackles," Toub said.

"He's an extra guy they're probably not accounting for," Toub said. "They know that that guy can go down and tackle. But a guy like Justin is a guy they have to worry about, they have to get him blocked and have to give up blocking somebody else."

On the surface, this seems like sound logic. Reid has proven he can kick well enough to at least be considered for the role, is obviously the best kicking tackler out there, and could be a key part of a stifling kick coverage unit in this new world. But Prime Video analytics expert Sam Schwartzstein -- who was a driving force behind the implementation of a similar kickoff format in the XFL in 2020 -- noted Toub might be wasting his time because under the NFL's new rules, the kicker cannot cross the 50 until the ball is caught by the receiving team.

I don't expect kickers to be as involved in tackles in the NFL because of this rule," Schwartzstein wrote on social media. "Also the kicker was so involved because they have the best pursuit angle to the ball, being lined up further away AND in the middle of the field. There are no pre-established 'levels' of coverage, so the kicker is always at least the third level."

If anyone knows how the kickoff might play out in the NFL, it's Schwartzstein, but that isn't going to dissuade coaches across the league from turning over every stone in order to be best prepared for a new special teams frontier. Toub even admitted the changes are making for an entirely different set of key factors, which will require some finesse in order to walk the line between being overly aggressive and too safe.

"Hang time doesn't matter at all now. Hang time is out the door," Toub said. … "Now, it's about accuracy. Seeing what you're getting, how the returners are lined up and trying to kick away from them in the corners. But you can't take too much risk because if you hit it out of bounds now you're giving up the ball at the 40. If you hit it short of the target zone you're giving the ball at the 40. So there's a fine line between pushing the limits and edges or just going down and saying we can cover."

Expect some ambitious experimentation with the kickoff this preseason. Perhaps you'll even see Reid line up to boot one deep.

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