Some clarity on NFL meeting plans

Just finished a media conference call with Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, and Ray Anderson, the NFL’s vice president of football operations.

The good news was there was no talk about labor news -- the focus was on football matters as the NFL prepares for its annual spring meeting. I’ll be heading to New Orleans on Sunday to cover that and the meeting officially starts Monday.

Before McKay and Anderson got into some possible rules changes, the NFL cleared up a situation that had been very uncertain in recent days. All 32 coaches are expected to attend and they’ll meet with the media Tuesday morning. In other words, I’ll have time to get with Sean Payton, Mike Smith, Raheem Morris and Ron Rivera and bring you what they have to say.

In another matter, an NFL spokesman said the league continues to work on its 2011 regular-season schedule and that’s expected to be announced, as usual, in mid-April. The spokesman didn’t give any hints if some of the opening-week prime-time games will be announced at the league meeting, but that’s been known to happen in the past.

New Orleans fans won’t be happy to hear there is no plan to propose a new seeding process for the playoffs. That comes after the Saints went 11-5, but drew the No. 6 seed and a trip to No. 4 Seattle, which went 7-9 and won the NFC West. McKay said the competition committee discussed a look at changing the seeding, but there didn’t appear to be enough momentum from teams to even make a proposal.

Our John Clayton will be posting much more on the rule changes that are proposed over on our main NFL page in just a bit. But the most significant proposal, at least in my eyes, is one to make some major modifications on kickoffs. Due to a high rate of injuries on kickoffs, McKay said the committee will propose moving the spot of the kickoff from the 30-yard line to the 35 and players on the kicking team would have to line up within five yards of the ball.

The proposal also includes moving the spot of touchbacks to the receiving team’s 25-yard line from the 20. Penalties for kicks going out of bounds still would result in the ball being placed at the receiving team’s 40-yard line. The proposal also would eliminate all wedge blocks, including the two-man wedge.