As if to reiterate their presumed opposition to the new kickoff placement rule, the Chicago Bears defied it twice in the first half of Saturday's preseason victory over Buffalo.
The Bears lined up Robbie Gould's first and second kickoffs at the 30 instead of the 35, as called for in the new rule. When told of the kickoffs, Carl Johnson, the NFL's vice president of officiating, called Soldier Field and ordered officials to "put a stop to it," according to Fox Sports.
As it turns out, the Bears were more interested in practicing kickoff coverage than defying the new rule. The team reportedly told the officiating crew beforehand that they would kick off from the 30 at some point.
"Robbie Gould ... we can put it on the 35 and he can kick it out each time," coach Lovie Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Weâre not really getting a good evaluation of what we can do coverage-wise on some of our players. Thatâs what we were trying to do with it."
The Bears are believed to be one of six teams that voted against the rule change at the owners meetings in March. The league hopes the change improves safety.