Why guardian caps are now part of practice helmets for certain Titans

Taylor LewanNASHVILLE, Tenn. – Taylor Lewan’s been accused of caring too much about how he looks.

He’s got no say in the matter now at Tennessee Titans’ practices, where linemen at players at other heavy-contact positions are wearing guardian caps on their helmets that make them look like the Great Gazoo (for those unfamiliar with the Jetsons, see photo by ABC below.)

The guardian caps are sectioned, exterior padding that makes guys’ heads bigger and add protection.

They produced a lot of laughs as they were put on for the first time Wednesday. But players are getting used to them and may come to like them more next week when the team holds its first padded practice with full contact on Monday.

“At first I was like, ‘What a stupid looking thing, this is the dumbest looking thing I’ve ever seen,’” Lewan said. “But honestly, I’m not going to lie: It’s kind of nice. It does – not listen, this is a grain of salt, I swear to God of the commish takes this and starts running with it – it’s a nice deal to have, for practice and the beginning of camp it’s a bit of a bloodbath out here, but after like two plays you don’t see it anymore.”

The Great GazooVrabel said head equipment manager Joey Barranco spoke to the team at a camp opening meeting Tuesday evening about the caps.

“I think the science and the data is to a point now where that's best for the player, for their health and safety,” Vrabel said. “When you talk about impact, the force and the amount of impact, it can reduce it up to 20 percent if two players are wearing that. That's pretty significant.”

It’s not a Titans’ decision and change, it’s a league mandate.

“I think part of the competition committee, I think part of their role is to try to make the game as great and safe as they possibly can,” Vrabel, who’s on the competition committee, said. “We hear from bio corps, the engineers, and the doctors and the NFL Players Association, Dr. (Thom) Meyer, Dr. (Allen) Sills, (NFL executive vice president for health and safety innovation Jeff) Miller at the league. They present the information, they present all the injuries.

“And then, we try to go about figuring out ways to prevent them, to make our players as healthy as possible. And this was part of it. They said that the technology has changed. They presented it and collectively, we all said that was the right thing to do, to make it mandatory throughout 32 teams and those players that are around the line of scrimmage.”

“Once you’re out there you don’t really notice it,” Zach Cunningham said. “It doesn’t look the best. …I’m going to be honest, I don’t recall what they said about it.”

Nate Davis wore the same thing when he practiced at Group of 5 Charlotte.

Guardian cap“It’s nothing new for me,” he said. “It just saves you from unneeded contact, especially during camp. I got used to it early on, you don’t really feel it either.”

The Titans quickly made one adjustment to some of the helmets, because they were making it hard for coaches to see everything they needed to when they review practice.

“We added a little stripe just to make sure that, as we're watching tape, that guys’ eyes -- so much of this game is where your eyes are -- and so some of those guys offensively, the linemen, we put a stripe on there just so that we can coach them up watching that tape of where their eyes are,” Vrabel said.

Lewan joked he feels like the slightly heavier helmet gives him a neck workout.

Harold Landry has a similar feeling.

“When we take it off,” he said, “it makes my head feel lighter.”

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