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Change in kickoff rule could affect roster spots

SHARE Change in kickoff rule could affect roster spots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The NFL moved the kickoff spot up five yards this year to decrease injuries by increasing touchbacks. The change could have another effect — hurting the job prospects of special teams players.

Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots may be one of them.

His primary contributions since they drafted him in 2008 have been covering kicks and blocking for teammates returning them.

The importance of players covering kickoffs diminishes with fewer opportunities to do that. So coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday that with kickoffs coming from the 35-yard line instead of the 30, that could affect roster decisions.

But Slater doesn't plan to change his approach. He knows he must do the same thing running down the field to cover kicks even though fewer will be returned.