FOXBOROUGH, Mass.— Matthew Slater has a made a career out of pestering kickoff and punt returns. It’s his special teams play that has allowed him to last nine seasons with the New England Patriots.

It’s this aspect of the game that’s also taken him to several Pro Bowls and Super Bowls. But it’s also an aspect of the game that league officials are trying to eliminate.

Citing player safety, the competition committee voted to move touchbacks to the 25-yard line this season instead of the 20 like in years past. The hope during the owners meetings was that this would discourage kickoff returns from bringing the balls out of the end zone.

In March, Commissioner Roger Goodell said there was a “safety element” to the change, but it’s one rule that has Slater disappointed with the NFL.

“I’m very disappointed obviously in the way that we’re discussing the future of the kickoff,” Slater said Thursday. “The kickoff is a big part of the history of the NFL and the history of football. For us to be sitting here talking about maybe doing away with the kickoff, it’s very disappointing. I can think about days all the way back to watching my dad (Jackie) playing with the Rams, and thinking of returners like Ron Brown and things of that nature that made a career doing this. You think about Steve Tasker and his impact on the game of football, and Bill Bates, the list goes on.

“The kicking game has meant a lot to the game of football and to a lot of players individually, and it has enabled guys to have careers – you think about Larry Izzo, you think about myself – without the kicking game, we don’t have a career. So I’m very disappointed in some of the things I hear with regards to getting rid of the kickoff.”

There is speculation that this rule could do the exact opposite of what the NFL had hope for. With teams potentially starting at the 25-yard line, other teams could try and combat that by pinning kickoffs inside the 20 like they do with their punters.

“It might backfire,’ Slater said. “I don’t know how other teams will approach it, and quite honestly I don’t know how we’re going to approach it yet. Right now we’re just practicing our technique the same way we would as if it was last year. So we’ll see.”

Slater said he doesn’t think coaches will just hand opponents the ball at the 25-yard line. He knows if he was going up against Tom Brady, that’s the last thing he would want to see.

“If you’re just handing some of the great quarterbacks in this league an extra five yards, I think it certainly changes the game,” Slater said. “I certainly don’t want to give Tom Brady the ball on the 25-yard line. I’d rather him have it on the 20, if I’m playing against him, or behind the 20. Field position is huge in this game.”

Jaguars: A person familiar with the process said Jacksonville receiver Allen Hurns signed a four-year contract extension worth $40 million.

The deal includes $20 million guaranteed, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Jaguars don’t release contract details.

The former Miami Hurricanes standout has 115 receptions for 1,708 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons, making him the best undrafted rookie to ever sign with Jacksonville.

WASHINGTON: Washington signed third-round pick Kendall Fuller, and now all the team’s draft picks have been signed.

BROWNS: Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge underwent surgery for a sports hernia.

Barnidge led the team with 79 receptions for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. Coach Hue Jackson said Barnidge will miss next week’s three-day minicamp but should recover in time for training camp in July.

DOLPHINS: The first game of the 2016 season is three months away, and the Miami Dolphins’ stadium is far from ready.

But team officials said they’re on schedule with a major renovation project, thanks to crews working around the clock since late December.

Officials gave a tour of the stadium Thursday, and the scope of the project was underscored by the enormous cranes towering above in all directions. In the stadium’s four corners, a skeletal assembly of trusses awaited a new canopy.

In short, the place is a mess. That’s the reason the team president, Tom Garfinkel, keeps hearing the same question. He said the project is on schedule, and barring unforeseen circumstances, the stadium will be football-ready for the start of the season.