PALM BEACH, Fla.—The number of player concussions on kickoffs dropped by approximately 40 percent last season, according to Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL’s competition committee.

That reduction reinforces the belief among league decision-makers that they made the right move last year by moving kickoffs five yards closer to the opponent’s end zone, he said.

The new rule also resulted in a dramatic increase in touchbacks. Forty-seven percent of NFL kickoffs resulted in touchbacks last year, up from 17 percent in 2010.

The rule change had sparked criticism from some coaches and players about the number of touchbacks it would create.

But McKay said here Monday at the annual league meeting that the change was made for player safety and won’t be undone.

“That was the main object of that rule change, and it worked pretty well,” McKay said.