PALM BEACH, FL (AP) – Concussions sustained on kickoffs were down 40 percent last season, exactly the kind of statistic the NFL had in mind by moving the kick up to the 35-yard line.

Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee that proposed the rule change last year, says Monday it “had an effect on the game.” He is surprised that total kickoff returns dropped 53 percent, but encouraged that player safety improved.

McKay also says the committee believes quarterbacks are adequately protected, but the owners will vote this week to enhance that by outlawing horse-collar tackles on passers in the pocket.

He also believes players and coaches are more comfortable now about adopting the postseason overtime rule requiring a team losing the coin toss to get a possession if the opponent kicks a field goal on the first series.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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