CINCINNATI — Fans attending the first few practices of training camp might notice something different on players' helmets.
For the first time ever, the NFL is requiring some player positions to wear a padded shell called a Guardian Cap outside their helmets during a portion of training camp. Bengals linemen, linebackers and tight ends were spotted with the black padding during practice Thursday.
"They're a minor inconvenience, but I think there's a serious issue that needs to be addressed and that's one way to do it," defensive end Sam Hubbard said. "We take more hits in practice than we do in games, and I think that's an issue for sure."
The NFL reports Guardian Caps reduce the impact of a collision by 10% if one player is wearing it. If both players wear the cap, there is at least a 20% reduction in severity. While players have worn the caps in previous seasons, owners voted in March to require players from all 32 teams to wear the caps.
"It looks weird, but it's not too heavy," Hubbard said. "I mean a 20% reduction in whatever the force is, I think that's substantial."
Players are allowed to take the caps off Aug. 21, though they can continue to wear them if they want. The league said it will collect data from preseason practices to understand how the caps worked and how to make things safer.
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