The NFL’s new kickoff rule has prompted Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in league history, to modify his workout routine to prepare for more frequent tackling duties. After noticing that XFL kickers were involved in 25% of tackles under a similar rule, Tucker has decided to add a few pounds to his frame.

“This might be really surprising to a lot of you guys and a lot of my teammates because I don’t hang out in the weight room too frequently,” Tucker said to ESPN during the Ravens’ offseason practice on Thursday. “Now I got to get some more shrugs, get the traps going a little bit, just to make sure I’m prepared for a little bit more contact.”

In March, NFL owners approved a significant change to the kickoff rule from the XFL by a vote of 29-3. Under the new rule, kickers will continue to kick from their 35-yard line, but the other 10 players on the kickoff team will line up at the receiving team’s 40-yard line, just five yards from the return team.

Tucker addressed the media after the Ravens minicamp and discussed the changes to his workout routine in response to the NFL’s new kickoff rule.

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Tucker, a seven-time Pro Bowl kicker, has recorded eight tackles in 195 games, with his most recent tackle occurring on Dec. 17, 2022.

“I don’t think [tackling is] necessarily something that is encouraged [for kickers], but it’s not discouraged either,” Tucker said. “It kind of just comes with the territory. It’s a football play. We’re all football players out there, and ultimately if a returner is beelining toward the end zone and I’m the last guy there to stop him, it is part of my job description.”

Tucker, 34, boasts a 90.2% field goal conversion rate (395 of 438) since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012. He holds the record for the most field goals in the NFL during this period, including a 66-yard game-winning field goal in Detroit on Sept. 26, 2021, the longest in NFL history.

The Baltimore coaching staff has studied every XFL kickoff and sent clips to Tucker for review as they develop their strategy for the new rule. Last week, Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub suggested using safety Justin Reid as a kickoff specialist to leverage his tackling abilities.

“Hell yeah, I want to be out there,” Tucker said. “I think it’s totally fair to turn over every stone and see what you got. Who knows? There might be a guy that can pinpoint drop the ball off the tee on the 5-yard line and then just go down there and smoke the ball carrier. I’d like to think I would be that guy.”

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