Missing the point on extra points

PITTSBURGH -- A preseason experiment could lead to the NFL tinkering with the point after touchdown attempt, and to this I say ... really?

I couldn't agree more with ESPN.com NFL columnist Ashley Fox, who recently questioned why the extra point is even on the radar of the league's competition committee. I would be in favor of getting rid of it altogether and rewarding teams with an extra point, which is almost automatic anyway, for scoring a touchdown.

Getting into the end zone in the NFL should be respected even with offenses becoming more and more prolific and scoring showing no sign of abating.

Also, eliminating the extra point would allow the NFL to trim some time off of the length of games, something the league needs to find ways to do without compromising the integrity of its product.

Moving extra-point attempts back -- teams will snap them from the 15-yard line instead of the 3-yard line for their first two preseason games this season -- could actually create a competitive disadvantage albeit a minor one as Steelers' special-teams coordinator Danny Smith pointed out recently.

"A long extra point becomes an issue when you're in Pittsburgh in December, when you're in Cleveland, when you're in Baltimore, when you're in Cincinnati or you're going to New England," Smith said.

Translation: Dome and warm-weather teams will have an advantage if the extra point is moved back.

As for the preseason experiment with extra points, Smith said, “I don't think it's going to really tell us a whole lot in the preseason because we're all going to be kicking in sunny days and hot days like that. I would question fooling with the game at this point I don't have a vote so I don't have an opinion."

Smith did recently offer his take on two subjects more pertinent to the Steelers' special teams than the future of the extra point:

  • On the pool from which the Steelers will choose their primary punt returner in 2014: “Obviously Dri Archer is going to be a big factor. He has a lot to learn, a lot to work on and he does and he will. His speed speaks for itself but there will be a big pool of numbers and again you can never have enough of those kind of guys. We'll filter that down as we get into camp and we get into preseason of who is going to do it and who's not and that will be again a tough decision. We have more to choose from than we've had in the past. That's a great situation to be in."

  • On having Antwon Blake for an entire season and adding Arthur Moats as a free agent helps the kick coverage units: "We've upgraded at that position really from a personnel standpoint and it's my job to get it all on the same page. And I think those guys are going to be great contributors as well with the rookie class coming (and) with those kinds of seasoned vets that you're talking about that have some experience in this business. It's an upgrade and we're going to have to make some tough choices. It's a good situation to be in."