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NFL moves kick off line to lower injuries

NFL owners voted to move kick-offs to the 35-yard line from the 30 starting next season and to allow all scoring plays to be reviewed.

NEW YORK // NFL owners voted to move kick-offs to the 35-yard line from the 30 starting next season and to allow all scoring plays to be reviewed, the league said last night.

The NFL is hoping the modified kick-off rule, which will essentially shorten the field of play, will help to lower the number of concussions and other major injuries.

"The bottom line is it's ... the highest risk of injury play," the New Orleans coach Sean Payton said in a report on the NFL's website.

The rule changes were passed by owners at the NFL Annual Meeting in New Orleans yesterday even as a lockout threatens to delay, and possibly wipe out, the 2011 season.

The league's competition committee wanted touchbacks moved to the 25-yard line from the 20 in a bid to increase safety by limiting coverage players from making long run-ups.

But owners, after hearing concerns from coaches, decided not to change where the ball is spotted after a touchback. They also made no change to the rule that allows blockers from the kick return team to line up in a "wedge" formation.

Replay officials can now call for the referee to review any scoring play, the NFL said. Under the previous rule officials only could order reviews (on any play) in the final two minutes of each half and in overtime.

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