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Falcons' Cordarrelle Patterson says new kickoff rule won't change his approach

The NFL's kickoff rule change caused consternation, particularly among coaches, who have been critical of the tweak.

The league approved a resolution in May that allows players to fair catch on kickoffs, with the resulting possession beginning at the team's own 25-yard line.

For his part, the greatest kick returner of all time, Cordarrelle Patterson, isn't fretting how much the rule change will thwart his chances.

"I ain't paid too much attention to it because, honestly, I don't feel like it affects too much of what we've got on around here because we're going to be aggressive," Patterson told Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports. "That's what coach wants, that's what he's going to get from us. We're going to fly around."

Despite the bravado in Patterson's initial comments, the Falcons returner did concede that if teams kick short, he might be forced to call more fair catches.

"Honestly, it depends on the situation," he said. "If they are sky-kicking the ball real high to the 10-yard line and the guy is 5 yards (away from) me, why would I not fair catch it? We'd get it at the 25. It's just being smart. We're going to be aggressive, but we still have to be smart."

The new rule is intended to incentivize fair catches, reducing the number of kickoffs taken -- and thereby the number of collisions that ensue during a play the league has deemed the most dangerous in the sport.

Patterson, 32, owns the NFL record with nine kick returns for touchdowns, setting the mark with a 103-yard score last season.

The veteran acknowledges that no one knows precisely how the new rule will impact returns until games begin.

"I think it will be good to see it in preseason, to see how every team adjusts," Patterson said. "Not just the Atlanta Falcons, but all 31 other teams, to see how everybody else plays it. Just try to be smart. Who knows? We'll see what happens."

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