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Chiefs S Justin Reid has been working off tee, would 'love to' serve as team's kickoff specialist

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker said Thursday he's been hitting the weights more frequently this offseason to prepare for the new kickoff rule.

One of Baltimore's biggest rivals, the Chiefs, revealed a different approach a week earlier when special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Kansas City is considering removing its placekicker from the play altogether, instead electing to use safety Justin Reid as a kickoff specialist.

Reid, never one to shy from an opportunity to lace up his kicking boots, appears fully bought-in to his coordinator's idea.

"I would love to because special teams plays a vital role in the game," Reid said Friday on if he'd like to fulfill the new role. "The game is three phases: offense, defense and special teams. In the Super Bowl, special teams was the difference with us winning and losing. … Special teams makes a humongous difference, and I'm willing to do anything to help us win."

Reid has been a cog on defense for K.C. in each of the team's last two Super Bowl campaigns, starting 40 games across the regular seasons and playoffs with 225 tackles, 15 passes defensed and 5.5 sacks.

His first game ever as a Chief, back in Week 1 of 2022, Reid also took on extra duties after Harrison Butker suffered a first-quarter injury against the Cardinals.

He converted one of his two extra point attempts and averaged 63.6 yards per kickoff while booming five out of seven for touchbacks.

"Every year I try to kick," Reid said. "I just like to do it for fun. So I petitioned coach Toub the last two years to let me get some in the preseason, and of course the first year, the Arizona game, so it's just a natural fit. He knew I'd be excited about it, and we think we can turn it into a weapon this year."

The strategy behind using a safety as the team's kickoff specialist is twofold. Although the kicker cannot cross the 50-yard line until the ball is received or touches the ground, he might still be more involved in containing the returner thanks to the new alignment of the play, which has the rest of the kicking team lined up at the opposing 40, across from the receiving team's blockers set up between the 35- and 30-yard line.

Taking Butker out of the equation reduces chances he will get hurt going for more tackles; Adding Reid to the formula provides another thumper to make a game-changing play on special teams.

But the new kickoff also comes with a higher degree of difficulty and requires a higher degree of accuracy. While a kickoff that gets downed in the end zone or goes out of the back sets up the opposing offense at the 30-yard line, coming up short of the landing zone (between the goal line and the 20-yard-line) will be treated as if the ball went out of bounds, resulting in the offense starting at their own 40-yard line.

Reid's aware of the new parameters, and he told reporters he's been working with footballs and a tee separate from organized team activities to stay sharp. The next step after an offseason of kicking practice will likely be giving Reid a shot to showcase his abilities in preseason, just as he's wanted for the past couple years.

How effective it proves during that period should determine if the Chiefs continue with their out-of-the-box thinking once the games count.

For his part, Reid feels only good can come from it if he executes properly.

"As long as the ball is in play and we have an extra guy running down there like a heat-seeking missile, good things are going to happen," he said.

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