NFL training camps have a new and controversial piece of equipment. The league requires certain position groups from all 32 teams to wear 'Guardian Caps' for the first 14 training camp practices. The caps are padded shells placed over the players’ helmets to help curb head injuries as teams ramp up their activity in preparation for the 2022 season.
As offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and tight ends have donned the caps in practices, questions have stemmed from wearing a protective device that won’t be worn during actual games. Some resistance to the change around the league stems from concerns that the protective padding is causing players to use their helmets more than usual, which could cause more problems when the caps are removed.
One of the league's most respected defensive ends, former Houston Texan J.J. Watt, voiced his criticism.
“I mean, I think you know what I think of the Guardian Caps we’re wearing,” Watt said at Arizona Cardinals camp. “You feel like a bobblehead. Like you’re gonna fall over. I’ll probably get fined for this.”
According to NFL statistics, the intent is to minimize the high number of concussions that are sustained early on in training camp. The protective caps reduce the severity of impact if one player is wearing them by 10 percent and by 20 percent if two players are wearing them.
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No one on the current Houston Texans team has been outspoken on the caps or the added protection they provide. It hasn't stopped defensive lineman Ross Blacklock from making a huge impact in training camp that has caught the attention of Texans general manager Nick Caserio.
Most talk regarding helmets in Houston is regarding the unveiling of their new Battle Red Helmets inside the Houston Methodist Training Center. It's the first time since the team's inception in 2002 that the Texans donned a different helmet.
While players across the league grow accustomed to the caps, everyone can agree that taking steps to reduce concussions is important. Players will be encouraged but not required to wear the caps after the second preseason game. The Texans enter 2022 looking to improve on a 4-13 record from last season and with the worst-odds to win the Super Bowl. The good news is, the Texans believe they have an answer at quarterback as they look to upset the Indianapolis Colts in week one .. and hope that no one plays like a bobblehead.
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