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    Could Myles Garrett Return Kickoffs This Season? Browns DE Excited by Possibility

    Myles Garrett is one of the league's top pass rushers. Could he also make an impact as a kickoff returner under this year's new kickoff rules?

    Myles Garrett has been one of the NFL’s top pass rushers for some time now, putting fear into opposing offenses play after play. Now, he could be poised to give the Cleveland Browns a new dimension in their kickoff return game with this year’s new rules.

    Could Myles Garrett Be Involved in Kickoffs With the Rule Change?

    Garrett added more validity to questions about whether the dynamic athlete might contribute to Cleveland’s new kickoff strategy.

    Garrett told reporters Wednesday that he has been part of the Browns’ special teams meetings and will play his part if called upon.

    “I’m in the meetings, so if my name is called, I’ll be out there,” Garrett said. “Whatever we need. I’ll return it. I’ll go down there and smack something. It’s whatever, wherever they place me.”

    Garrett also said the new kickoff rules will add additional excitement to the play, particularly compared to recent years, when kicks going out of the back of the end zone for touchbacks became the norm.

    “It’s definitely going to be a game-changer more often than not. Definitely more often than in recent years,” Garrett said. “Everybody’s going to be on their P’s and Q’s. There are going to be different strategies you see throughout the season with different teams. But it’s going to be a lot more exciting, and fans are really going to get a kick out of it.”

    Understanding the NFL’s New Kickoff Rules

    Quite a bit of change is coming to the kickoff this upcoming season that could allow players like Garrett to have a big impact.

    The intention behind the changes is to provide excitement once again with the kickoff return while also bringing the injury risk down closer to that of a normal play versus the heightened risk that previously came with kick returns.

    Teams will still kick off from their own 35-yard line, but the other 10 players in kick coverage will line up at the opposing team’s 40-yard line. At least nine members of the return team will line up between its own 30- and 35-yard lines to block for the returner(s).

    Play begins when the kickoff is fielded, or the ball hits the ground in the landing zone inside the 20-yard line. A kick that rolls into the end zone must be either returned or downed in the end zone by the return team, at which point it will get the ball at its own 20-yard line.

    If a kickoff does not reach the 20-yard line in the air or the kick goes out of bounds, the receiving team gets the ball at its own 40-yard line.

    A kick that reaches the end zone in the air can be returned, or downed to get possession at the receiving team’s own 30-yard line.

    MORE: Everything You Need to Know About the NFL’s New Kickoff Rules

    No fair catches are allowed, and teams can only onside kick in the fourth quarter.

    Although the rule has some other nuances, that’s the gist of the NFL’s revamped kickoff approach, which it hopes will make the play exciting once again while also limiting unnecessary injury risk to players.

    Teams May Use Unconventional Return Options

    Garrett is one of a few players who are less than conventional kickoff return options but could be used in the role given the new rule changes decreases their chances of injury.

    Pro Football Network’s Anthony DiBona ran down a few players who could be wild card return options this season in a recent story.

    In a similar vein to Garrett, Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is another freakishly athletic pass rusher who could be an intriguing kickoff return option. Dallas special teams coordinator John “Bones” Fassel said earlier this offseason that he would love to have Parsons return kicks, but that it’s likely not going to happen.

    Two other interesting options are athletic quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Justin Fields.

    Hill has done a bit of everything for the New Orleans Saints, including return kicks at times and being a running and pass-catching option on offense. His sizable frame and athleticism could make him a natural fit to return kicks in the new format, where injury risk should theoretically be more limited.

    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Justin Fields is a decidedly unlikely option, but interesting to imagine nonetheless. His creative ability as a runner could make him a fun option returning kicks, but it seems unlikely that Pittsburgh would put its likely backup quarterback at risk of injury bringing back kickoffs.

    KEEP READING: Identifying the Best Kick-Returner Option for All 32 NFL Teams

    One other intriguing option is former elite wrestler Gable Steveson, who signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason. Although indications are the team will look to make him a defensive tackle, Steveson’s wrestling prowess could make him difficult to tackle on kickoff returns.

    Although it’s unclear whether any of these players will return kicks this year at all, it seems likely at least one or two surprise returners will emerge under the new rules this year.

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