What are guardian caps? What to know about NFL's new helmet initiative

Players can start wearing the caps in the regular season beginning in 2024.

NBC Universal, Inc.

New helmet protection is coming to the National Football League.

The NFL announced on Friday it authorized guardian caps to be used during regular-season games, a first for the league.

Here's what to know about guardian caps entering the 2024 NFL regular season:

What are guardian caps?

Guardian caps are soft shell covers on top of helmets that provide extra cushioning and enhanced safety for head-to-head contact.

When did the NFL start using guardian caps?

The NFL started allowing guardian-cap usage during the 2022 training camp before making it mandated for preseason practices in 2023. That then rolled over to regular-season and postseason practices.

Are guardian caps required for NFL players?

Guardian caps have been required for certain positional groups during practices. Those include lineman, linebackers, tight ends running backs and fullbacks since head-to-head contact is more frequent among those positions. But that list is expected to expand to wide receivers and defensive backs.

Quarterbacks, punter and kickers are not required to wear them in practice.

Guardian caps will be optional for any player in the regular season.

What are the impacts of wearing a guardian cap?

Guardian caps are used to help lower the rate of head-contact injuries. The caps can reduce the force from head contact by 10% if one player is wearing it. That number rises to 20% if all players involved are wearing them, according to the NFL when the caps debuted in 2022.

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