The NFL’s hottest fashion statement—full pads—is making a comeback at today’s New York Giants training camp.
Forget about bands! Today it’s all about pads!
If you have followed pro football for a several years, you no doubt remember the days when there were two practices a day, usually one in pads and the other just in uppers (shells).Thanks to the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, which places more of an emphasis on player safety, those days are long gone.
That’s why when a team practices in full pads, it’s like spotting a rainbow. When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing for the hardcore football fan.
But what about for the players? Do they look forward to putting the pads on and hitting each other?
“They’re huge because you don’t have too many of them,” admitted defensive end Robert Ayers, Jr.
“You want to practice hard, so you need to be in full padded practice to get better to do things you haven’t worked on yet,” added defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.
Many people don’t realize this, but a football player’s pads can add upwards of 10 extra pounds on the athlete’s body, depending on the position and the type of padding the player prefers.
And that’s not including the helmet which weighs about six pounds on its own.
That might not sound like much in terms of extra weight for these super humans who eat, breathe, and sleep in the weight room, but the extra weight can make a difference at first.
Think of a running back who is trying to make a cut into a hole without pads. Because he’s at a lighter weight, he should be able to easily change direction.
Add that extra weight from the pads, and suddenly the laws of physics change a bit when that running back stops to change momentum.
Performance aside, there’s also a matter of being smart when practicing in pads.
“You’re carrying more weight than you’re used to so you want to understand what you’re trying to accomplish,” said Ayers.
“You want to get your hand placement right and other guys come a lot harder at you than you’re used to so you want to be able to get your pad level right, shock them and get off blocks, shock them and shed and things like that.”
Then there’s the matter of player safety.
“You still need to practice smart, you have to take care of yourself and your teammates, so when you’re out there, you don’t think, ‘Oh, I need to stay healthy,’ but at the same time, you’re still being smart,” Ayers said. “You don’t want to be diving at people or lunging at people.
“You have to understand that we’re not going against the Buffalo Bills or the Detroit Lions; we’re going against the New York Giants so you have to take care of each other, get better technique wise, scheme wise and be aggressive.”
Ayers, who said that the thought of putting on pads to practice is exciting for many players, believes that the Giants will be able to strike a balance between being aggressive and taking care of each other.
“I think the aggression part is going to be there. I don’t think nobody in blue (the defense) is not going to be aggressive today. We’re going to be after it and compete at a high level; that’s what we’re all made of. We have to take care of each other and handle things mentally. If we can do that, we’ll be good.”