Devin Hester says kickoff rule changes won't reduce concussions

Devin Hester says the NFL’s new rule change isn’t going to eliminate big plays on kickoff returns as we saw on opening weekend.

The Chicago Bears wide receiver and returner is adamant new changes won’t reduce concussions, either, the goal the league had in mind when kickoffs were moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line.

There were three kickoff return touchdowns on opening weekend. All of them were more than 100 yards, setting an NFL record. Green Bay Packers rookie Travis Cobb had a 108-yard touchdown, tying a league mark.

“It's just showing the NFL that moving the line up five yards didn't budge things a bit," Hester said. "They got a couple touchbacks but you've still got guys bringing it out and at the end of the day that rule is pointless. It's not going to prevent concussions because guys are bringing it out five to eight yards deep in the end zone. We're still coming out with it. And that's taking away from some of the fun in the NFL because guys are going to bring it out regardless."

Hester said big returns happen more often at the start of the season when special teams units are still feeling their way through things. Spacing and timing are always an issue.

"It's a record but it always happens early in the season," Hester said. "Special teams are trying to figure out who they have. … You put guys in position and in preseason you can't really tell. The veterans are on special teams now and some of them didn't do a whole lot in preseason, so you really can't tell how good of a special teams player they are. … As the season goes on, the big returns will start slimming down."

We'll see what the data shows at the end of the season. Surely, there will be more touchbacks this season. Whether there is enough to put a dent in injury statistics, it's too early to tell.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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