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Jerry Angelo’s kickoff fears eased

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

NEW ORLEANS — Heading into the NFL owners meeting Monday morning, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo expressed concern about kickoff rule changes that would affect “one of the most exciting plays in football,” not to mention one of his team’s most exciting players.

But in the afternoon, after listening to members of the NFL’s competition committee, Angelo didn’t seem as concerned about the impact to one of the strengths of his club — the return ability of receiver Devin Hester (right).

“I don’t think it’s going to negate the kickoff,” Angelo said. “We’re still going to have our returns in Chicago. We got two seasons. When the weather gets a little cooler, the ball gets a little heavier. I still foresee us getting a lot of returns in the kickoffs.”

Early Monday evening, Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay said the competition committee would consider some tweaks to the kickoff rules, after input from coaches earlier in the day.

Last week, the changes included moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line from the 30 and bringing touchbacks to the 25 instead of the 20. Also, wedge blocks would completely be eliminated.

A vote is expected today.

“Player safety is our No. 1 concern; it always has been,” Angelo said. “The commissioner has said it. We’ve said it as an organization.”But Angelo said the Bears are in favor of the status quo on that issue.

“Hey, I would definitely elect the rule to stay the way it is. But, given the big picture, we get it, and everyone has to make change .

“We’re all playing by the same rules. We have maybe the greatest kick returner that’s ever played the game. But, it’s still about the game, and that’s what we’re fixed on. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but I’m still confident that the play isn’t going to be taken away.”

On Twitter Sunday, Hester expressed ­concern about any changes to the kickoff rules.

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