The NFL changed its kickoff rules for the 2016 season; touchbacks on kickoffs will result in the ball being placed to the 25-yard line instead of 20. This could result in a wide variety of changed strategies. Teams may choose to try and kick the ball a little shorter, hoping to stop a return before the 25, while others may be content continuing to kick the ball out of the endzone.
Mike Priefer on his kickoff return and kickoff strategy with new touchback rule. pic.twitter.com/phaf73UcWS— Sam Ekstrom (@SamEkstrom) August 1, 2016
If you can’t read that, it states:
“If it’s a great returner, we’re going against Ameer Abdullah, who I think’s an outstanding returner in Detroit, if it’s early in the game we might want to put it out of the endzone if we’re at Detroit or at our place.”
Abdullah was statistically one of the best kick returners in the NFL in 2015. He led the league in return yards and was second in yards per return (29.1). His 104-yard kickoff return in Green Bay was huge in turning the game in Lambeau in the Lions’ favor.
While it’s disappointing to hear that the Vikings may be taking away that part of his game entirely, it is also interesting to hear that Abdullah is considered a big threat by a divisional rival.
Abdullah is still recovering from shoulder surgery he had in January. He is participating in training camp, but he’s wearing the no-contact red jerseys. According to Dave Birkett, Abdullah has also been taking punt return reps during camp.