McCarthy no fan of new touchback rule

Stu Courtney
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Packers coach Mike McCarthy talks Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings.

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Mike McCarthy tried in vain to hide his disdain.

The Green Bay Packers coach was asked Wednesday about the rules-change proposal — later approved by NFL owners for one year — that will spot the ball at the 25-yard line on touchbacks after kickoffs.

Much like the change that moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line, the latest rules change is designed to further encourage touchbacks and limit the number of kickoff returns, those exceedingly violent plays that carry a high risk for concussions.

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The change was recommended by the NFL competition committee, of which Packers president Mark Murphy is a member. But that didn’t keep McCarthy from making clear his thoughts on the subject.

“Do you want the kicking game in the game or not in the game?” McCarthy asked at the NFL owners meetings. “If it’s in the game, let’s kick it and return it and let’s play the play. Moving (the kickoff) up to the 40, moving (touchbacks) out to the 25, I don’t know if those are the right answers.”

Murphy acknowledged that there are some concerns about the rule, which is why it was voted down Tuesday and then approved a day later on a one-year trial basis.

"The concern there was kickers will do pooch kicks or mortar kicks, and so we said, 'Let’s do it for one year and see if teams really do have their kickers try and pin people back inside the 20, inside the 10," Murphy said. "So that was the thought, let’s see if that’s really what happens."

McCarthy's concern is based more on giving the opposing team an extra five yards for doing nothing.

“I just don’t like it,” McCarthy said. “Let’s not reward a decision not to compete with five extra yards. If we’re going to compete, let’s compete. If we’re not going to compete, let’s not compete. If we could try to make it that clean, it’d be better.

Nor is the Packers coach a fan of the new rule that makes all chop blocks illegal because of its likely detrimental effect on the running game.

"The cut block is going to be a bigger change than people realize," McCarthy said.

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