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NFL concussion data could lead to broader use of Guardian Caps

Mike Florio and Peter King discuss how a 17-week regular season increases the number of injuries, particularly when it matters most, and at what point action should be considered from a player-safety standpoint.

Concussions were up in the regular season. Concussions were down in the preseason.

That points to an obvious potential change to practice rules for the regular season, especially given one of the reasons for the reduction in preseason concussions.

The Guardian Caps, which were mandatory at practice through the second game of the preseason, could be used more broadly. The league acknowledged that possibility during a Friday conference call.

Certain specific position groups (offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, and tight ends) were required to wear Guardian Caps during practice. Per the league, those groups saw a 52-percent reduction in concussions over the same time period from 2021.

Thus, don’t be surprised if Guardian Caps become a fixture at practices throughout the season. Don’t be surprised if more position groups are required to wear them.

The biggest question is whether the league would ever require Guardian Caps to be used during games, especially in the preseason. Given the extent to which teams have become identified by the colors and logos on their helmets, it’s impossible to consider those logos being covered up by a clumpy, lumpy apparatus aimed at providing extra cushioning for those wearing the helmet and those struck by it.

The broader goal should be to create helmets that simulate the protection while still looking like helmets. Even though, frankly, few modern football helmets really look like football helmets anymore.