Browns should use D'Anthony Bell over Dustin Hopkins on kickoffs

With the new NFL kickoff rule coming in 2024, the Cleveland Browns should look to D'Anthony Bell for help
Cleveland Browns, D'Anthony Bell
Cleveland Browns, D'Anthony Bell / Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

When the NFL kicks off in 2024, things will look different. A new kickoff rule will be in effect and it could lead to some major changes across the league. Cleveland Browns special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone has been eager to put the pads on and see how the change looks, and he's not alone.

Other franchises are already trying to come up with a plan, including the Kansas City Chiefs. The two-time defending champions plan to give safety Justin Reid a shot at being their kickoff specialist. Their thinking makes sense considering the new rule allows the kicker and returner to move before the ball is touched.

That means kickers are expected to be more involved in defending the return, which is why Kansas City's desire to get another defensive player on the field is genius. The Browns have a similar option thanks to D'Anthony Bell.

Last December, the Browns lost kicker Dustin Hopkins to a hamstring injury. During their win over the Houston Texans, Hopkins went down while trying to make a tackle on a kick return. Punter Corey Bojorquez stepped in but then also suffered an injury. That opened the door for Bell, who kicked the ball 42 yards to the Houston 23 and made the tackle at the 32, limiting the return man to nine yards.

Bell said afterward that he used to kick in high school and was asked during the game if he could step in and get the job done. He did very well considering he had no time to prep and could offer even more if he was able to work on this during practices.

Ventrone hasn't made any mention of trying to get Bell or any other defender some work as a kickoff specialist but considering Hopkins finished the past two seasons on the IR, it might be an idea worth visiting.

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