NFL will experiment with padding to address player safety

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In an attempt to make the game safer, the NFL will push players to wear additional knee, thigh and hip protection during the 2010 preseason, and it could make permanent changes in 2011, USA Today reported Monday.

The early word is that some players -- especially those who wear less padding to optimize speed -- might oppose the plan.

Players from 12 teams will be asked to experiment with lightweight knee, thigh and hip pads during training camps and preseason games. The players will have the option to continue playing with the padding during the regular season.

"It's not mandated for 2010. But we anticipate we'll need to mandate it going forward," Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, told USA Today. "We're not going to relinquish on player safety. Particularly when we know we can prevent lost workdays and help players stay on the field. That's to their benefit and the club's benefit."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made player safety a focus for the league, but Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber told KFAN-AM that he believes there will be a "ton of resistance" to such a proposal. Leber, who only wears thigh pads, said he would be "a little disgruntled" if forced to wear additional padding.

NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah said efforts are being made to give the players a voice in the process.

"The players union views this is as one of a number of different health and safety items on the agenda," Atallah said.

The teams experimenting with the new padding will be based on the East Coast to provide easier access for New York-based league personnel, according to USA Today.



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