Jets' Robert Saleh concerned about protective helmet shells

Jets’ Robert Saleh concerned about protective helmet shells

Robert Saleh isn’t a fan of the new Guardian Caps that are being worn outside players’ helmets through the week of the second preseason game. The Jets’ head coach believes it is creating bad habits, because players are using their helmets more thanks to the protective shells.

Offensive and defensive linemen, tight ends and linebackers have to wear the caps, which are intended to limit concussions.

“I do think the spirit of it all is really good. I think it’s got benefits,” Saleh said following practice Saturday. “I do think because of the soft blow, it’s lending the players to use their heads a little bit more. … Anyone who’s played football knows that the first time you take your helmet off or you hit with the helmet or you have a collision, there’s a shock. I do think that if you’re waiting until the first game for that shock to happen, I don’t know, time will tell.

“It’s just interesting with those Guardian Caps and what exactly are we trying to accomplish.”

Laken Tomlinson participates in practice drills training camp on July 29.
Noah K Murray

Saleh’s main issue is he feels there should be a balance, and waiting until the final preseason game to use regular helmets could negate the bonus of wearing the Guardian Caps to begin with.

“I am [concerned] because I think there’s an acclimation period that is needed for actual pads for what they are actually going to use in the game,” he said.

The NFL issued a statement on the Guardian Caps Saturday afternoon: “The brain does not acclimate to head impacts,” said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL chief medical officer. “The Guardian Cap helps mitigate those forces at a time of the season when we see the greatest concentration of them.”

Rookie defensive end Jermaine Johnson believes he has a leg up on a lot of rookies because of his frequent changes of address in college, from Independence (Kan.) Community College to Georgia and then to Florida State. He’s used to adjusting to different teammates and coaches and their football philosophies.

“It’s helped me tremendously. Longest I’ve been in one spot is two years, and that was Georgia,” Johnson, one of the Jets’ three first-round picks, said. “I’m very familiar with re-acclimating to new systems, new locker rooms, stuff like that. I’ve had no issue doing that. I just kind of learned to do it the right way. Only way you earn respect is just doing things the right way and being a good teammate.”

A year ago, the Jets were second-guessed for not having an experienced quarterback on their roster to mentor Zach Wilson. That’s not an issue this summer, with Joe Flacco on the roster. The 37-year-old quarterback had a strong day Saturday and still throws a pretty long ball.

“He’s had so much success in this league, he knows how to prepare, he knows what defenses look like. He’s just got a way about him,” Saleh said. “I’ll stand by it, it’s not his job to mentor or coach anybody. His job is to come out and play, but I think by the way he goes about it, his business is really beneficial to what we have and that’s a very young football team.”

The Jets will practice with pads for the first time on Monday. Sunday is a day off.

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