Packers would support extra-point changes

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby.

PHOENIX – Mark Murphy is in agreement with a lot of NFL owners and executives that the time has come to liven up the extra-point system.

That change could come as early as May's spring meetings in San Francisco and in time for the 2015 season.

As the NFL annual meeting wrapped Wednesday at the Arizona Biltmore, the Green Bay Packers president and CEO said he likely would support a movement to ratify the point-after-attempt, which has become a near-automatic play. The Packers struggled in the category last season and still converted 53 of 55 attempts (96.3 percent).

One likely option would be to place the ball back at the 15-yard line for a 32-yard field goal similar to what the league experimented with last preseason. On two-point conversions, there also is momentum to move the ball ahead 1 yard – to the 1½-yard line – to entice teams to go for it without making it an easy sneak for quarterbacks.

"There was a session with owners and coaches and there was a real strong consensus that we have to do something," said Murphy, who also sits on the NFL competition committee. "It's a dead play, it's an automatic play. But really, nobody had a solution. So we had a good discussion about all different options today and so what we're going to do is, it'll go back to the competition committee and we'll come up with a recommendation to be voted on in May."

Along with limiting the unexciting sneak, another reason the competition committee and many coaches prefer putting the ball at the 1½ instead of the 1-yard line is because the offense can legally pick within a yard of the goal line.

There's something in this for the defense, too. Murphy said he'd be in favor of a measure that would allow the defense to return a blocked punt or turnover for two points as in college. In the NFL, the play is blown dead after either occurs.

"It is (exciting)," said Murphy of a turnover on extra point. "It doesn't happen very often, but … I think that'll be part of the resolution. It's kind of the same, why didn't the NFL have the 2-point conversion for years?"

The owners also discussed the idea of narrowing the goal posts. The league experimented with the idea at the Pro Bowl, reducing their width to 14 feet from 18½ feet. Indianapolis All-Pro kicker Adam Vinatieri missed two extra points in the game.

"I think the consensus is, 14's probably a little too narrow, so if we do narrow, right now it's 18½, so I think maybe a compromise of 16 would make more sense," Murphy said.

"I think long term, that probably is going to happen. If the issue is just the just the extra point, if you narrow the goal posts, then you're affecting a lot more than just the extra point. You're affecting field goals, which may be good, too. Kickers have become so accurate. I think long term, that'll happen."

There were 13 instant replay proposals, but the only measure that passed was allowing the booth to review if there was a timing error at the end of a half, game or overtime. To be reviewed, the play would have to benefit the trailing team and must be within eight points.

All five safety-related matters passed, including the medical timeout that allows an independent certified athletic trainers (ATC spotters) to alert officials to remove a disoriented player. The measure picked up traction when New England receiver Julian Edelman appeared to be dazed in the Super Bowl, but wasn't removed from the game.

Murphy acknowledged the new measure could have applied to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews in the waning moments of the NFC championship game.

The league tabled a proposal from the New England Patriots about inserting cameras on the end lines, goal lines and sidelines for possible review situations. The NFL said it plans to conduct research and development over the next year.

The Packers may have benefited last year against the Chicago Bears when defensive back Micah Hyde prevented the sideline cameras from seeing whether tight end Martellus Bennett crossed the end zone. Officials ruled the play inconclusive and ended the first half.

"I think that's something that if the cost is reasonable and feasible, I think that's something we would do," said Murphy, who also said the league plans to study the utilization of in-stadium video for reviews.

-- and follow him on Twitter @WesHod

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