BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns are sporting new head gear this training camp - but it's not a fashion statement. Rather, it's a preventative measure.
They're called "Guardian Caps."
"It's something that was jointly agreed upon with the PA and the NFL. Anything we can do to make our game safer, we're all about," says Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.
The caps are soft shell, padded protective gear that wrap around the helmet. Offensive and defensive lineman, tight ends and linebackers across the league are mandated to wear them during practice. The caps are also available to players in other position groups, if interested.
"That's something that is new this year. I think guys are open to it. Like anything, I'm sure there's gonna be getting used to it, but we used them with the rookies in that first camp when we had just the rookies and quarterbacks out here. We had them on, so I think it'll just become the norm, likely, in our game," says Stefanski.
"We want guys to live long, happy lives. If it helps guys a little bit to wear a guardian helmet for a couple weeks, I think it's worth it," says Browns guard Joel Bitonio.
While the Guardian Caps provide an extra layer of caution against head injuries, the Browns also prioritize teaching proper technique.
"Everything we do, we keep the head out of it, whether you're tackling or blocking or taking on a block. We're trying to keep our head out of it. That's good technique," says Stefanski.
"I'm not a guy that's gonna head bang the whole game anyway. I try to use technique and hands and shoulders and different levers, instead of your head. I know some guys enjoy that, but ,for me, I'd rather keep my head out of it as much as possible," says Bitonio.
Players in the specified position groups will wear the caps through the second week of the preseason.
Carly Mascitti is a sports anchor at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @carlymascitti.
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