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NFL will put chips in footballs as part of study

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The NFL continues to search for new methods for making extra point and field goal attempts more difficult -- and thereby more exciting for viewers.

One method might be to reduce the space between the field goal uprights. It's something the league tested two years ago during the Pro Bowl, but didn't implement during other games. Now, more testing on the subject will be done.

According to NFL spokesman Michael Signora, the league will use microchips in footballs during the preseason as part of the next phase of the Next Gen Stats player tracking project. A chip will be placed in every ball during the preseason. Following the preseason test, the league's Competition Committee will review the results to determine how the balls performed along with the potential uses of the data collected, Signora said.

Signora said there's potential for the information to be used in the future on media platforms such as NFL.com and also in-game telecasts, including 2016 Thursday Night Football regular-season games.

Included among the data that will be collected is how far the ball travels on a particular play and the ball's proximity to the goal posts on a field goal or PAT, Signora added.

The Toronto Sun first reported the development.

"The discussion has really revolved around narrowing the uprights," NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino told The Sun of how the league is looking at creating a more difficult kick. "That would be one way to affect both the extra point and the field goal. (Success rates) have continued to climb over the years as our field-goal kickers and that whole process has become so specialized, from long snapper to holder to kicker.

"We'll do some studies this year."

Blandino said the league will ultimately base any changes they make upon the data they receive through the study.

"You never know," he said. "We'll see what the data tells us. The committee will discuss it and then make a recommendation for 2017 if they feel that we need to go that route. But I wouldn't know at this point, without seeing how it goes this year."

The NFL already moved back extra point attempts permanently, but with a lofty 85 percent conversion rate on field goals, more tweaks could come in the future.

If kicks become tougher, then kickers become more valuable, and contracts such as Justin Tucker's new $16.8 million deal will be more ordinary.

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