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Proposed Rule Change Will Affect Ravens' Cundiff

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When the Baltimore Ravens placekicker Billy Cundiff separated himself from every other kicker in the NFL last year with his record-tying 40 touchbacks (next closest was Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski's 29), I said to no one in particular that the NFL was going to come up with a rule change to negate the Ravens huge advantage. However, I thought they might consider moving the kickoff oint from the 30-yard line to the 25-yard line to stop him from putting the ball deep into the opponent's end zone so often.

That doesn't appear to be the direction the league is considering going towards, as they are looking to change the rules in another way. The NFL has discussed the ossibility of moving the kickoff line even closer, to the 35-yard line, which would make it easier for the rest of the league to kick it into the end zone, and if so, change the starting point on touchbacks from the 20 to the 25-yard line instead.

This could alter the strategy on kickoffs, and force teams like the Ravens to re-consider utilizing Cundiff's rocket leg for placing the ball around the one yard line rather than giving teams the ball at the 25-yard line. They might stand a better chance at stopping the returner prior to that point for better defensive field position. However, the league is also looking to force opposing players to line up no deeper than five yards behind the kickoff point so they can't get such a good running start. This could slow down their time to the returner, allowing him to get further upfield before they can run him down.

Either way, it is a classic way to "level" the playing field and take away what Ravens fans knew was a huge advantage due to Cundiff's great kickoffs during the 2010 season, prompting the Ravens to sign him to a new contract extension in the off season.

See the story on how the proposed new rule could affect Cundiff at BaltimoreRavenscom.

See the proposed rule change on kickoffs and illiegal hits on NFL.com.