NFL Expands Use Of Guardian Caps In 2023

The NFL has expanded the use of guardian caps beyond training camp. The league is now requiring teams to use them for all preseason practices and for all contact practices during the regular season. According to, here’s the updated layout of the Guardian Cap rules.

“The Guardian Caps that were worn during training camps last season will now be mandated at every preseason practice, as well as every regular-season and postseason practice with contact. Players at position groups where head contact is seen most are required to wear the Guardian Cap, with running backs and fullbacks joining the previously included linemen and linebackers. The only positions not required to wear the caps are kickers, punters, quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs.”

The large-padded caps placed on top of helmets make everyone look like The Great Gazoo. These caps are designed to reduce the rates of concussions and, according to the league, the data is encouraging.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been a big proponent of utilizing the guardian caps and doing anything he can to reduce the concussion rate. Here’s what Tomlin said about it when they were first utilized last June.

“It’s for their safety. And so we don’t run away from those things. We run to those things. We’re gonna make it a non-issue for us. And it’s about the work that we do.”

While only certain positions had to wear them last year, all players wore them last year except for quarterbacks during Steelers’ camp. If anything, the league is just following in Tomlin’s footsteps. It’s certain Tomlin is all for the expansion of these caps and the benefits they bring. The league seems to be on the same page as it continues its mission of player safety.

In other play-safety matters, discussing outlawing or changing the “hip drop” tackle has been tabled until the owner’s next meeting in May. The league has openly discussed getting rid of the tackle that’s caused foot and ankle injuries but have met clear pushback from players and the union over the issues it’d cause would-be tacklers.

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