Justin Tucker excited about new kickoff rule, ready to tackle when needed

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker says he’s ready to make tackles on kickoffs after the NFL implemented a new rule to encourage more returns.

Last year, 79 percent of Tucker’s kickoffs went for touchbacks. This year, the vast majority of kickoffs are expected to be returned, thanks to the league’s new rule, and Tucker said that means he’ll be ready to make tackles on long returns.

“It’s one of those things that just comes naturally. If you’re a ballplayer, you stick your nose in there,” Tucker said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t think it’s something that is necessarily encouraged. But it’s not discouraged either. It just comes with the territory. It’s a football play. We’re all football players out there.”

There’s been some talk that teams might let a defensive player kick off because they’ll be better at tackling, but Tucker doesn’t want to hear that.

“Hell yeah! I want to be out there,” Tucker said. “Any chance I get to be on the field, living out my childhood dream — wherever, whenever that is, I’m going to make sure I’m ready to go and put the best product on the field I possibly can.”

One of the best kickers in NFL history, Tucker said he’s in favor of the change because it makes kickoffs more relevant.

“My initial reaction was you’ve got to be positive about it and think about it in terms of this is going to keep the play in the game,” he said. “It’s not just going to keep the play in the game; it’s going to be a lot more exciting. I think there’s going to be a lot more action.”