It has been a topic of much discussion in the NFL. How can the league prevent injuries and still keep the excitement of the kickoff in football? Kickoffs allow opportunities for players like Dante Hall and Devin Hester to shine in the spotlight, even if it's for one play. The huge hits that occur and players running down the field at full speed is a marvelous thing to watch. For some players, this is their only job, and the only time they hit the field.

Nevertheless, when it comes to injuries, some action has to be taken. Concussions are still occurring, ACL's are being torn, and the injury timeouts that result make fans feel like they are watching a boring movie.

According to John Breech from, At the NFL spring meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday, the NFL voted on multiple rules to address making kickoff's safer. The outcome of the meeting produced seven new rules to the kickoff including how the players are aligned on the field for both the kick off and return team.

7 new kickoff rules

Rule 1: 5 players on either side

The first of the rules will affect onside kicks the most. For the kicking team, five players must line up on either side of the field. Teams will not be able to overload one side of the field for onside kicks like they used to. It will be a wonder as to how many onside kicks the kicking team will be able to recover this year.

Rule 2: Line up inside and outside

At least two players must be on the inside and outside of the numbers.

Also, at least two players must be lined up between the numbers and the hash marks on the kicking team.

Rule 3: Running start

Kickoff teams currently line up five yards from the line of scrimmage for a running start. With the new rules, however, the kickoff team can only line up one yard behind the line of scrimmage. For example, if the kickoff begins at the 35-yard line, players can only line up as far as the 34-yard line.

This prevents the aforementioned running start. This along with rule 1 will make things difficult for the kicking team on onside kicks, but it will also, in terms of momentum, put the kickoff and return team on a more balanced playing field.

Rule 4: Wedge blocks

No more two-man wedge blocks. The wedge blocks used to come together right in front of the kick returner.

Players would run shoulder to shoulder down the field, creating a wall for the kick returner. This will no longer be allowed with the new rules. Players on the return team that was initially lined up in the setup zone are the only ones permitted to form a double-team block.

Matt Bowen, who played for the Rams, Packers, Redskins, and Bills, suffered the majority of his injuries on kickoffs. His role on the field: to break up wedges. "You have a 50-yard head start and you run into your garage door -- that's what it feels like," Bowen stated.

Rule 5: Dead ball

If the ball touches the ground in the end zone, it will be called a touchback. Even if the ball hits the playing field first and rolls into the end zone, the play will be blown dead.

Before, the receiving team would have to down the ball in the end zone to receive a touchback.

Rule 6: Set-up zone

The NFL has created a 15-yard setup zone for the return team. The zone falls between the kicking team's 45 and the return teams 40-yard line (depending on if there is a penalty assessed to the kickoff). At least eight players must be set up in this zone. Only a maximum of three players can remain outside of it. The purpose: to have players from both teams running alongside each other instead of having players colliding like the final battle of a war movie. The idea is for more side-blocking instead of head-on encounters.

Rule 7: Blocking zone

From the kicking team's 35-yard line to the 50, the NFL has created a no blocking zone.

As long as the ball has not been touched or hit the ground, players may not block in this zone.

The fate of the kickoff

In what seems to be the last straw for the kickoff play in the NFL, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. The NFL has seen 71 concussions alone on kickoffs in the past three seasons. To keep kickoff's alive, the new rules will have to combat these jaw-dropping statistics. Fans still want to enjoy the game, they want to see bone-crushing hits, and they want to watch the kick returner zig-zag, hurdle, and spin-off of tackles. Kickoff's keep people on the edge of their seats. But will the excitement be enough to keep the kickoff alive?