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More Guardian Caps, And '0' On The Field

No review of roughing the passer penalties after controversial season

The Guardian Caps, mandated for safety in training camp last season, weren't a favorite of some players, but they aren't going anywhere. In fact, there will be more of them, and they will be worn longer. That was one of a few new rules changed at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday.

Another was the addition of the No. 0 to the roster.

Numbers are running out across the league, thanks to injuries and an expanded practice squad. (It was also noted that a ton of players want single digits too, more than can be accomodated.) So players can now wear "0," and it'll be interesting to see what Cardinals ends up with that choice. I'd think it'd go well before the draft class arrives, but who knows -- maybe Will Anderson? (Then again, none of the new guys have numbers yet, so I could see Zach Pascal or Kyzir White maybe too.)

That's aesthetics though. The Guardian Caps were used in the first part of training camp in 2022, mandated for offensive and defensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers. Their head injury rate dropped 52 percent compared to the three-year averages of those respective positions. It worked. So this season, running backs now have to wear the caps as well as the previous positions, and they will be worn not only for the duration of camp and the preseason but also any contact practices in the regular season.

A couple of potential changes were voted down. One was a change to have, instead of an onside kick, teams would instead have a "fourth-and-20" play instead of a kickoff and if converted, gave a team the ball back after a score. "There is not an appetite yet to have the onside kick go away," said Rich McKay, competition committee chairman and Falcons CEO.

Also, despite the seemingly weekly complaints about bad roughing the passers calls, there was no momentum to subject such calls to replay review. "It wasn't a long discussion," McKay said.

Now, running back Keontay Ingram (left) will have to wear a guardian cap just like linebacker Zaven Collins (right).
Now, running back Keontay Ingram (left) will have to wear a guardian cap just like linebacker Zaven Collins (right).