Chiefs learning to adapt to new NFL rules

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The 2018 NFL season remains a month away, but the preseason will be critical for coaches and players to learn the league's new rules in preparation for the season in addition to the team's playbook.

Saturday was Family Fun Day at Chiefs Training Camp.

Aside from signing autographs and mingling with fans after practice Saturday at training camp, players and coaches talked about some of the major rule changes made during the offseason. 

"The thing about NFL players — they're great athletes; they're going to adapt," Chiefs assistant head coach/special teams coach Dave Toub said. 

During the first preseason game against the Houston Texans on Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs will see just how well they've adapted to the new rules regarding tackling. 

"We don't want to see anybody get hurt — our team, their team — we just want to play," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. 

The new rule mandates that players can't lead or initiate contact with their helmets on tackles. There were three hits flagged for violating the new rule during the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2 between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears.

"The rule is to help make the game safer, help you as a player keep playing, and so I don't think there's anybody that's resisting the rule," Sutton said. 

Kickoffs also will look a little different this season.

Players won't be permitted a running start downfield. New rules also move players on the kickoff return team closer to where the ball is kicked, which should help reduce speed and space on the play.

The main goal of the rule changes is to limit the amount of full speed collisions that have made kickoffs the most dangerous play in football.

"I was one of the nine guys that went up there and kind of created this thing, so you know obviously we're trying to make the game safer," Toub said. "We're trying to keep kickoff in the game."

Special teams units have been working hard at training camp to master the changes. 

"Oh yeah, it affects us a lot, you saw us working on it today," Toub said. "The kickoff is so different where you cant take a step and guys want to get that running start. It's just instinctive that they want to go."

Coach Toub says the onside kick will look the most different. He's confident in this team and looking forward to getting a taste for the new rules in the preseason opener. 

"You know, as long as the officials keep it consistent, we'll be in great shape," Toub said.

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