NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL Network's Rich Eisen on Thursday that the league will indeed look at possible alternatives to traditional kickoffs during next week's player safety summit with players and coaches.
"We see that there's a higher incident [rate] of injuries on that play," Goodell said on NFL Network's Draft Kickoff Live. "So we try to look at this and [say] what is it we can do to make it a safer play but also improve the excitement of it. And there's actually been some creative thinking that we're going to discuss again next week. Several different concepts from special teams coaches, other coaches -- we even have one from a well-known college coach -- concepts that are alternatives, but really exciting plays."
Goodell didn't elaborate on what those concepts might be, but it's clear that improving player safety on kickoffs is part of the NFL's agenda. Moving touchbacks to the 25-yard line, which has increased the incentive to kneel in the end zone, has cut down on the number of returns, but concussions and other injuries continue to be an issue.
"If you don't make changes to make it safer, we're going to do away with it. It's that serious," Murphy said last month. "It's by far the most dangerous play in the game."
While major changes to kickoffs aren't anticipated for this season, the league will indeed enforce an expanded rule that penalizes players for lowering their helmets on hits. Goodell told Eisen the NFL wants to ensure players and officials are properly prepared for rule's implementation.
"We have a meeting next week, [and] there will be a great deal of discussion," Goodell said. "We're going to have several coaches and others coming in to talk about how we're going to coach it, how we're going to teach it so that we're talking the same language and make sure we're doing this consistently. And, of course, our officials, obviously, to be able to officiate it consistently."
As for NFL's modified catch rule, Goodell believes the league has finally gotten it right.
"I think we went back and looked at the basics: What do we want to be a catch in the league? And we really reformatted the rule from the beginning to make sure that we made those catches by rule," he said. "So, I do believe we will get to the right place this year."