Why Many Patriots Are Wearing ‘Q-Tip’ Helmets In Training Camp

'It just looks funny, right?'


July 27

FOXBORO, Mass. — Attend a New England Patriots practice in the next few weeks, and you’ll notice dozens of players sporting some unusual headgear.

They’re called Guardian Caps, and they’re the latest NFL initiative aimed at reducing head injuries. But Josh Uche had a different name for them.

“We look like Q-tips, almost,” the Patriots linebacker said Wednesday after the Patriots’ first training camp practice.

That’s an apt description.

The caps, made of soft-shelled protective padding, are attached to the tops of players’ normal helmets with velcro straps connected to the facemask. Occasionally seen in NFL camps at lower levels of football in recent years, the league now is mandating all offensive linemen, tight ends and front-seven defenders — the positions that experience the most direct head contact on a play-by-play basis — wear them in every practice from the start of training camp through the second preseason game.

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Uche acknowledged the coverings look a tad unusual, but he said his didn’t hinder him on the field.

“It just looks funny, right?” he said. “I’m sure everyone’s seeing guys running around with this big, goofy cap on. … But it is what it is. I didn’t really notice that much of a difference. Still working hands, still working feet techniques and stuff like that, so it didn’t really bother me.”

Tight end Hunter Henry said the cap took some getting used to. His position group is the only skill unit required to wear one, with running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks able to choose whether to do so or not.

“I saw some high schools that have done it but personally had never worn one,” Henry said. “But anything to increase the safety, obviously, so commend the NFL and NFLPA for always looking out for us. … You’ve kind of got to get used to it. It’s something different, and different looking at it in a way, too, but it is what it is.”

Patriots players who choose to can shed their new lids after the team’s joint practices with the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 16 and 17.

NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN
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