Chargers have reason to celebrate kickoff changes

Posted March 24, 2011 @ 10:19 p.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

The NFL's new kickoff rules have brought about mixed reaction throughout the league, with some teams being adamantly against the changes while others wholly support them. Although they might not be the first club one would expect to be in favor of moving kickoffs up five yards from the 30-yard line to the 35, we hear the Chargers are perfectly fine with the new rule. One reason is that their kicker, Nate Kaeding, has suspect leg strength, averaging just 63.1 yards on kickoffs for his career and only once registering double-digit touchbacks in a season. The Bolts also had some of the all-time worst coverage units in 2010, allowing three kickoffs to be returned for scores. By moving kicks five yards closer to the endzone, opponents almost certainly will have fewer chances to hurt San Diego on special teams. We're told another factor at play here is the expected departure of impact return man Darren Sproles from the team. "I do think it's going to affect the decisions you make on a returner," said head coach Norv Turner at this week's owners meetings. With returners becoming less important under the new rules, it's even more likely that the Chargers will let the free agent walk.