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Toub: Kicks from 30 didn't hurt Wootton

8/15/2011

Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said Monday that Corey Wootton's injury Saturday had nothing to do with the Bears' decision to kick off from the 30-yard line.

The NFL changed the rule this season to have teams kick off from the 35, which would result in more touchbacks and fewer injuries. But the Bears wanted to see their kickoff coverage team in action, so they kicked off from the 30 for the first two times against the Buffalo Bills until a league official called officials at Soldier Field and instructed the Bears to follow the rule and kick off from the 35.

Wootton could miss four weeks with cartilage damage in his right knee, according to a source.

"We talked to the NFL beforehand during the offseason and they said it was going to be OK [to kick from the 30]," Toub said. "That's why we did it. I guess [the instruction to kick from the 35] came down from New York. They got word we can't kick from the 30, and we just went back to the 35 after that.

"We were just trying to evaluate our kicking team. You don't get any evaluation when you kick touchbacks. That's what the preseason is for. It's about evaluation finding who can cover kicks. That's all we were trying to do."

An NFL spokesman, asked if the league in fact gave permission this offseason to kick from the 30, said: "No."

When asked if Wootton's injury could have been prevented by kicking from the 35, Toub dismissed the question and said the rule was to prevent concussions, and Wootton suffered a knee injury.

ESPNChicago.com's Melissa Isaacson contributed to this report.