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Raiders report: NFL shuts down loophole on kickoffs

Updated December 15, 2022 - 8:10 pm

The loophole has been closed almost as fast as it was opened for kicker Daniel Carlson and the Raiders.

Less than two weeks after the team sought clarification of a rule that allowed them to start placing the ball on top of the tee and employ a holder on kickoffs, the NFL has shut down the gimmick.

“Maybe they should make it the Daniel Carlson rule or the Raider rule,” Carlson said Thursday. “We should get some credit for it.”

Special teams coach Tom McMahon and the Raiders thought the wording of the rule that governs kicking off didn’t expressly prohibit using a holder and placing the ball on top of the tee in a way that would allow a better launch angle. By doing so, it allowed Carlson to put the ball up higher and drop it inside the 5-yard line. That would allow the coverage team more time to get down the field.

It seemed to work.

Opponents were starting drives on average just past the 23-yard line in the past two games after kickoffs. While it’s a short sample size, the Raiders were allowing average returns of 18 yards in the past two games, which is about 4 yards less than the league average and more than 3 yards less than the Raiders were allowing on the season.

“It was great,” Carlson said. “The guys liked it, and it was creative of us. (The league has) their reasons. I’d like to think it was player safety. They want more touchbacks. That’s what I assume it’s about, but it was fun to have the loophole opened for a second and we used it.”

When the Raiders first utilized the tactic against the Chargers, it largely flew under the radar. But their second game was against the Rams in prime time when there were more eyeballs on the kickoffs. It’s possible that put the focus on the strategy.

“There’s probably some of those factors,” Carlson said of the reversal. “I bet some special teams coaches saw it and called in. You just never know. We knew eventually they might have to change the rule because the optics don’t look great when it’s indoors and there’s a holder.

“We could say it’s the wind, but that doesn’t work when we’re playing at home. It was fun while it lasted.”

Injury report

Running back Josh Jacobs got in another limited practice Thursday as he battles quad and hand injuries.

Jacobs, the league’s leading rusher, has played the past three games despite being listed as questionable with calf and quad ailments. He suffered the hand injury in Week 14 against the Rams but returned to the game.

Starting right guard Alex Bars was held out of practice for the second consecutive day with a knee injury that forced him from the Rams game in the first quarter. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin has also missed two consecutive practices with a knee injury.

Rookie offensive lineman Dylan Parham was upgraded to full participation after he was limited Wednesday with a knee injury. Cornerback Sam Webb also went from limited to full as he recovers from an illness.

Defensive end Malcolm Koonce popped up on the injury report for the first time with a knee injury, but he was a full participant in Thursday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Andrew Billings (fibula), offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor (oblique, wrist) and linebacker Denzel Perryman (hip) were limited for the second straight day.

Released

The Raiders waived guard Lester Cotton Sr. on Thursday. He had been placed on injured reserve Dec. 3.

Cotton, 26, appeared in 10 games this season, but hadn’t played an offensive snap since starting in Week 2 and playing the entire game.

The Alabama product came to the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He has been released three times, but made the team out of training camp this year.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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