FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes comments from Falcons owner Arthur Blank on receiver Julio Jones as well as information on rule changes from the NFL's spring meetings in Atlanta.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *Arthur Blank comments on Falcons receiver Julio Jones
Following Tuesday's practice during Falcons organized team activities, head coach Dan Quinn addressed the absence of wide receiver Julio Jones. Quinn explained that he has been in contact with Jones and wasn't surprised when he didn't show up for offseason workouts; he also added that he anticipates Jones will be present for the start of mandatory minicamp later next month.
While Jones' presence at offseason workouts has been one topic of conversation over the last week, there have also been reports that he is seeking to renegotiate his current contract, which still has three years remaining on the deal.
At the NFL spring owners meeting in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was asked for his thoughts on the situation regarding Jones.
"As I said about Matt Ryan, how I wanted him to be our quarterback for his entire career, Julio Jones will be our receiver for his entire career," Blank told Jeff Schultz of *The Atlanta Journal-Constitution*. "This is just a normal kind of discussion that takes place. We'll deal with it. We have an excellent relationship with him. It's great."
Blank offered further insight in a brief conversation with 11Alive Sports' Alex Glaze, saying Jones would "be here forever."
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Owners approve changes to kickoff, use of helmet
At the NFL's spring meeting in Atlanta Tuesday, owners voted to adopt a change to kickoffs and finalized ejection standards for the new rule involving a player's use of his helmet during a collision.
Here is a brief overview of some of the new rules put in place for kickoffs:
- Players are no longer allowed to have a running start on kickoffs and must start within one yards of where the kick will take place.
- Wedge blocks downfield have been banned. Players are allowed to form double-team blocks, but they must occur in the new "setup zone," which is the 15-yard area between the receiving team's 40-yard line and the kicking team's 45-yard line.
- A touchback is immediately called upon the ball hitting the end zone.
- Blocks may not be initiated until the ball is touched or hits the ground. Similarly, a blocker on the return team may not enter the no blocking zone – around the opponent's 45-yard line – prior to the ball being touched or hitting the ground.
As for the owners' finalization of ejection standards for illegal use of the helmet, here is some further explanation via the NFL's official Football Operations Department twitter account:
Here are some more articles from around the league: