Jets’ Robert Saleh concerned about helmet shells

Robert Saleh is not a fan of the new Guardian caps which are worn on the outside of players’ helmets during Game 2 week of the pre-season. The Jets head coach believes this creates bad habits as players use their helmets more thanks to the protective shells.

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

“I think the spirit of it all is really good. I think it has advantages,” Saleh said after training on Saturday. “I think because of the soft hit, it allows players to use their heads a bit more. … Anyone who has played football knows that the first time you take your helmet off or hit it with the helmet or have a collision, there is a shock. I think if you’re waiting for the first game for that clash to happen, I don’t know, time will tell.

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

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

Saleh’s main issue is that he thinks there should be a balance, and waiting until the last pre-season game to use regular helmets could negate the bonus of wearing Guardian Caps to begin with.

“I am [concerned] because I think there’s a necessary acclimatization period for the actual pads for what they’re actually going to use in the game,” he said.

The NFL released a statement on the Guardian Caps on Saturday afternoon: “The brain does not acclimate to head impacts,” said NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills. “The Guardian Cap helps mitigate these forces at a time in the season when we see the greatest concentration of them.”

Rookie defensive end Jermaine Johnson thinks he’s one step ahead of many rookies due to his frequent address changes in college, from Independence (Kan.) Community College to Georgia, then to the state of Florida. He is used to adapting to different teammates and coaches and their philosophies of football.

“It helped me enormously. The longest I’ve been in one place is two years, and that was in Georgia,” said Johnson, one of the Jets’ three first-round picks. “I’m very familiar with reacclimating to new systems, new locker rooms, stuff like that. I had no problem doing it. I just kind of learned to do it the right way. The only way to earn respect is to do things right and be a good teammate.

A year ago, the Jets were guessed for not having an experienced quarterback on their roster to coach Zach Wilson. That’s no problem this summer, with Joe Flacco on the roster. The 37-year-old quarterback had a good day on Saturday and still throws quite a long ball.

“He’s had so much success in this league, he knows how to prepare, he knows what the defenses look like. He just has a way of him,” Saleh said. “I’ll leave it at that, it’s not his job to guide or coach anyone. His job is to get out there and play, but I think the way he does it, his business is really good for what we have and it’s a very young football team.

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

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