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Belichick likes new kickoff rule

3/22/2011

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL has passed a revised rule on kickoffs and Patriots coach Bill Belichick supports it.

The ball will be moved up to the 35-yard line (from the 30), but touchbacks will remain at the 20-yard line. The two-man wedge will still be allowed.

On Monday, Belichick had strongly opposed a different proposal that would have spotted the ball at the 25 on a touchback and eliminated the two-man wedge.

"I think this is a lot simpler. It's clean," he said this afternoon.

As for kickoffs being moved up 5 yards, Belichick said, "It's fine. We look forward to it."

He believes the change will reduce kickoffs that will be returned, but not drastically.

"Based on the numbers, you're still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters," he said. "At the end of the year it goes down anyway. There's a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn't carry as far in the cold."

Belichick was particularly happy about touchbacks staying at the 20.

"I think that's good for the game," he said. "We don't need too many new rules every year. It's hard for the coach to keep up with them, let alone the fans. I'm still working on some of the new rules from last year."

One other rule change is that all scoring plays, if necessary, can be reviewed by instant replay.

"It's kind of like the college rule, kind of cleans it up a little bit," Belichick said. "I think any time the pro rules and the college rules are the same that's better for the fans. It's easier to follow, you know, one foot, two foot, all the things like that. To make it more consistent, that's better."