Could new rules actually help returners?

NEW ORLEANS -- One of the better special-teams players in the NFL thinks new rules affecting kickoffs will produce more long returns and better offensive field position.

RobinsonRobinsonFullback Michael Robinson, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks last season after four years with the San Francisco 49ers, offered his thoughts via Twitter in response to my earlier item suggesting rules changes could limit returners.

The way Robinson sees things, moving kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 will produce more touchbacks, as anticipated. He also thinks the rule limiting running starts for coverage teams will diminish front-line impacts, leading to longer returns on those plays that fail to produce touchbacks. Robinson expects teams to adjust by using larger players on their coverage teams "because kickoffs will become more power plays, not as finesse" and "smaller guys avoid contact more."

One other potential consequence: Kickers could face more pressure to keep balls away from returners because "blocks will be easier."

Robinson, who is currently vacationing, plans to expand on the subject at his website. He said the changes are taking away from the game.