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Cowboys' C.J. Goodwin looking forward to new kickoff format: 'It's gonna be fun'

The NFL changed a few rules that could have a significant impact on the field in 2024, starting with the very first play of every game.

Kickoffs are going to look vastly different this season. The league adopted the new kickoff format first used in the XFL with the hope it will increase returns, which should bring action back to a play that largely become a formality in recent years.

Returners are excited, but so too are other key special teamers, like the Cowboys' C.J. Goodwin.

"I like the rule change, honestly," Goodwin said, via the team's official site. "I know Bones (Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel) is extra excited about getting this rule changed. We actually ran drills in training camp in anticipation of this getting changed at some point. And speed is one thing, running down the field, but there was a lot of dead time when you kick the ball out of the end zone, so it adds a lot of action back to the game."

Dallas is equipped with a returner in KaVontae Turpin, who has already found a way to stand out even while player safety-focused rules have lowered the big-play potential of kickoffs in recent years. So, ideally, the Cowboys should be even more thrilled about the potential of the new format. Players like Goodwin -- a defensive back who has found a role as a gunner -- know the chances of big plays should exist for them, too.

The new rule is intended to both make the kickoff safer by eliminating the distance between the kick coverage unit and return team, and also create more action by eliminating fair catches while encouraging returns. At minimum, it will be a test of each unit's ability to do their jobs. If return teams execute, they'll gain valuable additional field position that would be unlikely, if not impossible, under the old format. And if the coverage units get the job done, they'll be able to pin opposing offenses deeper in their own territory, or force turnovers.

"We're expecting more returns this year, which is more plays for everybody, and you can force a fumble on kickoff -- so you can change a game in this aspect," Goodwin said. "We're looking forward to it. It's gonna be fun."

Fun, indeed. The XFL -- and its successor, the UFL -- have already proven the potential for game-changing outcomes with this format.

This fall, it will make its debut in the big league. Those playing in the NFL can't wait.

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