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Sunday, August 14, 2011
Joe DeCamillis likes the old rules

By Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis isn't a fan of the new kickoff rules.

Kickoffs were moved from the 30- to 35-yard line as a safety issue to curtail injuries. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant suffered a season-ending fractured ankle on a kickoff return at Indianapolis last season.

DeCamillis said the new rules make it harder for teams to see if they have cover or return guys. The Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills got in trouble during their preseason game for moving the kickoffs back to the 30.

League officials called the on-site referees to make the teams follow the rules. A player from the Bears was injured on a kickoff before the league told the teams to go back to the old rules.

"It hurts us in our evaluation of our guys that can cover," DeCamillis said. "Part of what hurt us last year, in my opinion, is we have a lot of young guys and we got a lot of touchbacks in the preseason last year so we didn’t have as a good a feel for who’s going to be able to cover. I think that's got to be part of our evaluation. You got to find those guys that are able to do that."

Opponents averaged 24.3 yards a return against the Cowboys last season, which included a 95-yard return. The Cowboys allowed returners to get over 100-yards in kick returns six times last season.

Players who make up the bottom of the roster are special teamers, and their status is uncertain from week-to-week sometimes. DeCamillis likes to have experienced players on his units but understands he will need younger players to perform.

In Thursday's preseason opener, DeCamillis wanted rookie kicker Dan Bailey to not have any touchbacks so he could see some return guys.

Bailey sent all five of his kicks into the end zone in which three were returned for an average of 18.7 yards.

"In the games, we've got to make sure we put the ball not in the end zone," DeCamillis said. "We got to find out who can cover that’s how you find out."