New Kickoff Rule Could Benefit Bears Player on the Chopping Block

The NFL changed the kickoff rules this offseason. It might benefit one Bear who has struggled in his career so far.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL finally implemented a change to the kickoff rules which will take effect in the 2024 season. The new rule suggests that teams have to return any ball if it's placed in the "landing zone" from the 20-yard line to the end zone. Nobody on the field is allowed to move until the ball is caught by the returner.

The main objective of this is obviously to reduce touchbacks, which have been steadily increasing. This should ideally lead to more returns, increasing the importance of high-level return men. This includes Velus Jones, according to Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Richard Hightower.

In his NBC Sports Chicago piece, Alex Shapiro highlights the faith the Bears have in Jones. The former third-round pick who hasn't particularly impressed in Chicago so far, will have a chance to establish his career thanks to the new kickoff rules, and ST coach Hightower is a full believer in him.

"You can only think about a guy like Velus Jones. A guy like that with his type of skill set, with the speed and the power that he has, and he's coming full speed ahead at you, it's like a damn freight train running at you."

Bears ST Coordinator Richard Hightower

Jones has been the returner for Chicago ever since he was drafted in 2022. He has an impressive 27.4 yards per return in 26 games. Last season, he ranked second in the NFL behind Kavontae Turpin of the Dallas Cowboys. However, he only returned 16 kicks.

With the new rule change, this number will surely rise and that will certainly help the Bears offensively. Starting their offense in a better position will help Caleb Williams and the new Chicago offense immensely.

This will not only help the Bears, but it will also help Jones turn things around individually. With the additions of Rome Odunze and Keenan Allen, the Bears are more stacked at wide receiver than ever. Jones will presumably struggle to get any more than the 100 offensive snaps he saw last season. Therefore, he needs to make a huge impact in the return game to prove his worth to the team.

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