Moving kickoff line cut concussions in half for 2011

It was nearly a year ago that the NFL announced kickoffs would be moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line with the stated goal of reducing concussions.

Mission accomplished.

Dr. Hunt Batjer, the co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and department chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern University, said Wednesday that concussions on kickoffs were cut in half in the 2011 season.

Before you point out that the dramatic reduction in kickoff returns and rise in touchbacks is the reason why, there is a twist to the data.

“We just got the data recently,” Batjer said. “It looks to me like a decreased number of runbacks played a role. It did not affect a lot of the other injuries paradoxically.”

That means other injuries, like ankle sprains, were not dramatically reduced by the significant drop in kickoff returns. Touchbacks nearly tripled from 2010 to 2011 with 1,120, according to Elias Sports Bureau, and the number of kickoff returns in 2010 (2,033) dropped to 1,375 in 2011.

Batjer said more time needs to be spent studying data and that will be done. It’s pretty clear, to this point, that the kickoff line will remain at the 35 as we head into 2012.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Upcoming Games

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Indianapolis +3 -115

Tennessee -3 -115

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

LA Chargers +7.5 -107

Kansas City -7.5 -107

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Washington +7 -102

Buffalo -7 -102

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Chicago +8.5 -107

Cleveland -8.5 -107

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Atlanta +2.5 -107

NY Giants -2.5 -107

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Cincinnati +6.5 -107

Pittsburgh -6.5 -107

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Baltimore -7.5 -110

Detroit +7.5 -110

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

New Orleans +3 -110

New England -3 -110

@

Sep 26th, 1:00 PM

Arizona -6 -110

Jacksonville +6 -110

@

Sep 26th, 4:05 PM

Miami +1 -107

Las Vegas -1 -107

@

Sep 26th, 4:05 PM

NY Jets +7.5 -107

Denver -7.5 -107

@

Sep 26th, 4:25 PM

Tampa Bay +2.5 -110

LA Rams -2.5 -110

@

Sep 26th, 4:25 PM

Seattle -2.5 -107

Minnesota +2.5 -107

@

Sep 26th, 8:20 PM

Green Bay +3 -107

San Francisco -3 -107

@

Sep 27th, 8:15 PM

Philadelphia +3.5 -110

Dallas -3.5 -110

@

Sep 30th, 8:20 PM

Jacksonville +0.5 -116

Cincinnati -0.5 -116

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Detroit +6 -110

Chicago -6 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Carolina +5.5 -110

Dallas -5.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

NY Giants +6.5 -110

New Orleans -6.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Cleveland -1 -110

Minnesota +1 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Houston +16.5 -110

Buffalo -16.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Tennessee -6.5 -110

NY Jets +6.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Kansas City -6.5 -110

Philadelphia +6.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Indianapolis +2.5 -110

Miami -2.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Washington -1 -110

Atlanta +1 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 4:05 PM

Seattle +3.5 -110

San Francisco -3.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 4:05 PM

Arizona +6 -110

LA Rams -6 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 4:25 PM

Baltimore -1.5 -110

Denver +1.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 4:25 PM

Pittsburgh +6.5 -110

Green Bay -6.5 -110

@

Oct 3rd, 8:20 PM

Tampa Bay -3.5 -123

New England +3.5 -123

@