Early returns: scoring up (& penalties, too.)

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It seems the CFL’s new rule changes are having the desired impact.

The league announced Tuesday that through the first two weeks of the regular season both scoring and net offence are up from last year. Teams have scored an average of 52.4 points per game (compared to 45.5 points last year) and accumulated 725 yards per contest (compared to 652 in 2014).

The CFL’s board of governors were hoping to inject more offence into games when it adopted the rule change this off-season that neither a defensive back nor a receiver could initiate contact five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Another new rule was the five interior linemen on punts being unable to leave the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked, thus giving the returner more room to run.

Through two games, Hamilton’s Brandon Banks has taken two punts back for touchdowns.

Teams are also adjusting to the new passing rules as 21 penalties for illegal contact on a receiver have been issued this season. Last year there were five.

More flags have been dropped, with an average of 29 penalties per game. That’s up 23 per cent from this time last year however both offside and objectionable conduct calls are up 83 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively.

Another notable off-season rule change was pushing convert attempts back 20 yards to the 32. The move was made to make the extra point less of a foregone conclusion.

So far, kickers have made 25-of-30 converts (83.3 per cent) whereas 99.4 per cent of conversions were successful in 2014.

The league also changed its two-point convert policy, moving the ball from the five-yard line to the three-yard line. Twelve two-point attempts have been made, with eight being successful.

– CP

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