The NFL is, once again, looking at adopting a new rule that would make things less exciting under the guise of “player safety,” even as they weigh another rule that would appear to fly directly in the face of that.
Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, teams will vote next week on whether or not to adopt the same rule on kickoffs that college football currently has, wherein any fair catch on a kickoff inside of the 25-yard line gets moved out to the 25. This would take the kickoff almost completely out of the equation, and while it sounds like something that would make things safer for players, Breer’s article points out that there were very few head injuries on kickoffs, and that players really weren’t any more likely to receive a concussion on a kick return than they were on any other play.
As Breer also points out, the teams will also vote on a rule to allow the league to flex games to Thursday night football, creating more short windows for players and putting them at greater risk of injury. These two things certainly appear to be contradictory, at least on the surface.
Does the NFL care about that sort of thing? Absolutely not.
More specifically for the Minnesota Vikings, this brings about the question of what happens to running back Kene Nwangwu if the kickoff return rule were to be adopted. Nwangwu has been with the Vikings for two seasons and has, undoubtedly, been one of the team’s most exciting players with the ball in his hands. He has three kickoff returns for touchdowns in his two seasons.
Outside of kick returns, however, Nwangwu hasn’t done a whole lot over his first two NFL seasons. He has just 22 carries for 75 yards as part of the offense, as well as six receptions for 30 yards. The Vikings also have plenty of talent on the depth chart at running back, with Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, and. . .at least for now. . .Dalvin Cook.
If the NFL votes to, essentially, remove the kick return from the NFL game, does Nwangwu have enough value to the team to keep him on the roster as a running back? That’s a question that the purple may or may not have to answer in the near future.