Packers All-Pro Keisean Nixon had perfect reaction to NFL kickoff rule change

Green Bay Packers, Keisean Nixon
Green Bay Packers, Keisean Nixon / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The NFL has drastically changed the kickoff rules. Despite the Green Bay Packers surprisingly voting against the proposal, it could help them significantly.

Keisean Nixon has earned consecutive first-team All-Pro honors after leading the league in kick return yards. The new rules should give him even more opportunities to make game-changing returns.

The full explanation of the rule change is complicated, but there are a few key takeaways.

Most importantly, no players except the kicker and one or two returners can move until the ball reaches the "landing zone" between the goal line and the 20-yard line. Defenders will begin at the opposing team's 40-yard line but must remain stationary until the ball bounces in the "landing zone" or is caught by the returner.

The idea is to create more kick returns. Kicking teams will be penalized if the ball falls short of the "landing zone," with the offense getting the ball at the 40-yard line. If the ball goes out of the end zone, they get it at the 30.

Teams often avoided kicking to Nixon. Now, they have to allow him to return it.

Packers' Keisean Nixon is ready to make third straight All-Pro after rule changes

Nixon has never needed an excuse to return a kick, no matter how deep in the end zone it landed. Now, he has to return anything that falls into the "landing zone." Needless to say, he's happy with the NFL's decision.

Nobody knows for sure how the rule changes will impact kick returns, but it should lead to more opportunities for Nixon. One benefit is defenders can't move until he catches the ball, giving him a head start on his return. The drawback is they will line up at the Packers' 40-yard line.

It should lead to several one-on-one blocks, and Nixon is good enough to take advantage if a lane opens up.

Nixon isn't the only player excited about the rule changes. Running back AJ Dillon and edge rusher Rashan Gary expect big things from the back-to-back first-team All-Pro.

It should lead to more kick returns, adding excitement to the game. If the drama of kickoffs is back but without the injury risk, everybody wins.

The Packers led the league in kick returns with Nixon last season. That number should level out now that every team will have to return more kicks. But it should benefit Nixon, who averaged a league-best 26.1 yards per return last season.

It remains to be seen whether the rule changes will increase or decrease that number, but he will have more opportunities to return kicks, and that's good news for the Packers.

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