Ravens’ Justin Tucker says he’s in weight room more to prepare for new kickoff rules

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is taking a new workout approach this offseason to prepare for the NFL’s changed kickoff rules in 2024.

“Just like a pitcher tries to develop his stuff, I’m doing the same thing out here trying to figure out whichever way we can in our minds gain an advantage, gain an edge,” Tucker said after the Ravens’ OTA session Thursday.

Tucker said he’s noticed in XFL games that kickers have been involved in 25 percent of the tackles with the revamped kickoff play, sparking him to hit the weight room more.

“This might be really surprising to a lot of you guys and a lot of my teammates because I don’t (tend) to hang out in the weight room too frequently,” Tucker said. “I’ve mixed it up a couple of times, I’ve gotten in there. But now I’ve got to get some more shrugs, get the traps going a little but you know just to make sure I’m prepared for a little more contact.”

When asked if he’s going to add more weight, Tucker said, “I have put on like 3.8 pounds. Can you guys tell? Probably not. I’ll leave it at that.”

NFL owners approved in a vote in March to adopt a new rule where every member of the coverage team (kicking team) aside from the kicker has to have one foot on the 40-yard line. The receiving team will have nine players on its own 35. Two men will line up downfield as returners. The kicker will still kick off from his own 35.

The kickoff team defenders are not permitted to move until the ball lands on the ground in the “landing zone” — inside the receiving team’s 20-yard line. If the ball lands short of the landing zone, the ball would be moved to the receiving team’s 40-yard line as if a kickoff sails out of bounds. Touchbacks would call for the ball to be moved to the receiving team’s 30.



Making sense of NFL’s new kickoff rule and what it means for next season

The only drawback of the new format is that it eliminates the element of the surprise onside kick. If a team wishes to attempt an onside kick in the fourth quarter, it will declare that intention, and the teams will line up in the old formation and kick-off.

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(Photo: Jeremy Reper / USA Today)

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