Leg pads now required, so players must adapt

Staff writerJuly 27, 2013 

Football pants with cushions and knee pad, lower right, will be new gears for NFL players on Friday, July 26, 2013( PLEASE BORROW INFO FROM STORY

— Sidney Rice will have to make a change to his game-day attire when exhibition play begins in less than two weeks.

Rice will have to slide knee pads and thigh pads into his game pants — something the Seahawks receiver hasn’t done since his college days at South Carolina.

“It’s the rule,” Rice said. “They’re big on player safety. They’re trying to do whatever they can to protect the players, and you really can’t complain or argue with that. But I do it think there should be an option (on whether to use pads).”

In the name of player safety, the NFL has made it mandatory for players to wear thigh pads and knee pads during games. Hip pads and butt pads remain optional.

Merton Hanks, vice president of football operations who finished his career with the Seahawks in 1999, said the league will treat the issue no different from a player trying to play without a helmet.

“Wearing thigh and knee pads is no different than wearing a helmet and shoulder pads,” Hanks told USA Today. “We won’t allow you to play without a helmet on, either.”

The league has uniform inspectors assigned to each city, and they are tasked with making sure each player’s uniform meets league specifications. An inspector who sees a player not wearing thigh pads or knee pads will notify officials on the field, who will remove the player from the game until he puts on the pads.

The Seahawks have about 12 players from last season who usually did not wear thigh pads or knee pads, including Rice, Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons and Kam Chancellor.

Many skill position players — mostly defensive backs and receivers — don’t wear the pads because they believe they’re faster without them. But advances in how the pads are made, including girdles with lightweight pads built into the garment, should ease the transition.

“It’s an adjustment,” said Erik Kennedy, the Seahawks’ longtime equipment manager. “We knew it was coming, so we didn’t just talk about this now. We’ve been talking about it with the players for about a year now. The guys who aren’t going to like it are the ones who have been around for a while now and who don’t want to change.

“So for us, we want to find the carbon fiber, or the lightest thing for a guy that didn’t wear anything in the past, to have some options.”

The Seahawks won’t have their first fully padded practice until Tuesday, so players still have time to figure out what works best.

“You want to have any type of advantage out there possible, especially with the type of speed this NFL brings,” Thomas said when asked why he hasn’t worn leg pads. “And I think playing without pads kind of made me feel lighter. It was just a mental thing more than anything else.”

BROWNER PLEASED WITH $250K SALARY INCREASE

Cornerback Brandon Browner confirmed he received a pay bump for the final year of his three-year contract.

“It’s a good gesture,” Browner said. “I’m a team guy. Mostly for me, it’s about playing football. That’s what I want to do here, help this team be successful.”

Browner was due to make $550,000 in base salary for the 2013 season and received a $250,000 raise for the upcoming year.

The bump in pay should help offset the $109,411 in salary he lost when he was suspended for the final four games of 2012 after violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs

Along with the pay bump, Browner also received assurances from the Seahawks that they would discuss an extension at the end of the season.

Browner, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, said he would like to remain in Seattle, which has one of the league’s best secondaries.

Chancellor signed a lucrative multi-year deal during the offseason. The contracts of Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman expire at the end of the 2014 season.

“I want the ‘Legion of Boom’ to really mean something when it’s all said and done with,” Browner said, referring to the secondary’s nickname. “Not something that we just made up last year. I want that to hold weight for years to come.”

REPORT: HARVIN DUE FOR SECOND OPINION

Receiver Percy Harvin was at practice watching from the sidelines for a second consecutive day. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Harvin will meet with Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York on Tuesday to get a second opinion on his injured hip.

Harvin reportedly has a slightly torn labrum that might require surgery, which could force the explosive playmaker to miss a significant portion of the season.

Doug Baldwin continued to work with the first unit at slot receiver with Harvin out.

The receiver group supports Harvin’s decision to get the issue resolved.

“I’m happy that he’s on our team,” Golden Tate said. “Hopefully he gets healthy soon, so he can help us.”

EXTRA POINTS

Along with Harvin, Zach Miller (foot), Tharold Simon (foot), Robert Turbin (foot), Chris Clemons (knee) and Greg Scruggs (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform list. Linebacker Korey Toomer (knee) remains on the non-football injury list. Michael Robinson and Heath Farwell also did not practice, but the team did not say why. … The Seahawks had 2,650 fans attend practice.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437
eric.williams@thenewstribune.com

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service