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Bills requiring all offensive linemen to wear knee braces

At a time when the NFL is preparing to require players to wear more pads, the Buffalo Bills have taken the process a step farther.

Coach Chan Gailey is requiring all offensive linemen to wear knee braces during training camp.

“No, they don’t like it, but I think they’re smart enough to understand
why
,” Gailey said, per the Associated Press.  “With all the injuries we’ve had around here, I think that they
weren’t quite as reluctant.”

Gailey, along with offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, began considering the approach 20 years ago.  “I believe it because I know it, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” Gailey said.  “I’ve seen bent knee braces come off the practice field and
the guy’s not hurt.  So I know it works.”

The players aren’t thrilled by the requirement, even though they know it’s for their own good.  “It’s an extra pound or two on each leg,” guard Eric Wood said.

It’s only a matter of time, in our view, before more teams impose the requirement for practice — and before the league does it for all games.  With the league serious about enhancing (i.e., expanding) the regular season, the NFL and its teams have every reason to remove any and all preventable injuries from the sport.  If braces help keep knees from getting shredded, making braces a standard part of the lineman uniform is a no-brainer.

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18 Responses to “Bills requiring all offensive linemen to wear knee braces”
  1. smilergrogan says: Aug 2, 2010 8:04 AM

    or they could enforce the rules against cut blocking.

  2. Steve says: Aug 2, 2010 8:12 AM

    It’s not that simple. Requiring knee braces on o-lineman would be an unfair advantage to the defense. And requiring DE’s, OLB’s to wear braces just cant be done. Or any blitzing members of the secondary. Players care about one thing $$$ and they get that through good play. O-lineman know that, and won’t ever let this rule be applied. I can see it being a TC, Pre-season, practice mandate but never regular season.

  3. DarnSkippy says: Aug 2, 2010 8:14 AM

    “It’s an extra pound or two on each leg,” guard Eric Wood said.
    We’re talking about guys weighing over 300 pounds. I can’t see how an extra 2-4 pounds is going to hinder their performance. It may mess with their range of motion, but I don’t see the extra weight as being an issue, especially in a practice setting.

  4. redsquare says: Aug 2, 2010 8:23 AM

    It’s an interesting progression, in some ways a contradiction. As players get bigger, stronger, and faster, their likelihood of injury only seems to increase.
    Personally, I’d rather have players who are a little smaller and weaker than they are now if it means less buildup of artificial measures to compensate. There have always been injuries in the game, but I think it’s fair to say that there must be some tipping point beyond which strength conditioning & weight gain starts to come at some price that eats away at the game, making it too dangerous.
    When I think about a field full of players in leg and arm braces, extra padding that amounts to body armor, and helmets with extra concussion and eye protection, I see a game becoming increasingly cartoonish and robotic.
    As a fan, I want to see the players protected. But I can’t help but feel the biggest threat is the size/weight and strength arms race that’s driving players to carry too much weight and be impacted by too much weight. It seems unique to football right now, and it could really undermine it.

  5. tv says: Aug 2, 2010 8:24 AM

    Yeah, I can see the problem – a 350 lb guy having that extra 4 pounds would really be a killer for his movement.

  6. Pudge Heffelfinger says: Aug 2, 2010 8:28 AM

    When I tore my ACL I had to wear a knee brace for a while, and they are quite cumbersome. Maybe by requiring them for players, we’ll see a focus on engineering as companies try to make them stronger and lighter, like what happened with helmets.

  7. Pestilence1972 says: Aug 2, 2010 8:43 AM

    I might be wrong, but I think the Wisconsin Badger O-Line all wear knee braces. Under Barry Alvarez, at least. Many of his guys went on to become pros, so it can’t be that bad.

  8. prefont says: Aug 2, 2010 8:48 AM

    There is little or no evidence that wearing a knee brace will prevent injury. It’s quite the contrary. By wearing knee braces the lineman will be weakening their supporting muscles and nuero connections making them more susceptible to injury.

  9. Playmaker's Dealer says: Aug 2, 2010 9:00 AM

    Smart move.
    There’s a reason virtually every college in the country makes their o-line where these things.

  10. imissmydeadspin says: Aug 2, 2010 9:01 AM

    Eric Wood
    congrats on being back. that injury video is almost sickening to look at.

  11. LewD says: Aug 2, 2010 9:04 AM

    redsquare says: August 2, 2010 8:23 AM says:
    “When I think about a field full of players in leg and arm braces, extra padding that amounts to body armor, and helmets with extra concussion and eye protection, I see a game becoming increasingly cartoonish and robotic. ”
    I was thinking the same thing …. kinda like that armorish (made that word up) figure on FOX ….

  12. DC_Bengals_Fan says: Aug 2, 2010 9:13 AM

    “By wearing knee braces the lineman will be weakening their supporting muscles and nuero connections making them more susceptible to injury. ”
    It’s not like they wear them all day. These guys will still spend all day carting 400 lbs around.

  13. Florida727 says: Aug 2, 2010 9:50 AM

    an extra 2-4 pounds on a 300+ pound lineman, and saying it’s a concern, is a lot like saying spitting in the ocean gives cause for concern about coastal flooding. that said, “prefont” is exactly right in his post, doctors have told me braces can actually weaken other support muscles and contribute to an injury, not necessarily prevent one. makes you wonder if their benefit is more in the 6″ space between your ears.

  14. BenRapistberger says: Aug 2, 2010 9:52 AM

    with all the ACL injuries you see, I’m surprised this hasn’t been made a requirement yet. I’d imagine it wouldn’t be cheap but there must be a company out there that can make a composite knee brace that weighs almost nothing.

  15. Kirmie says: Aug 2, 2010 9:59 AM

    # DarnSkippy says: August 2, 2010 8:14 AM
    “It’s an extra pound or two on each leg,” guard Eric Wood said.
    We’re talking about guys weighing over 300 pounds. I can’t see how an extra 2-4 pounds is going to hinder their performance. It may mess with their range of motion, but I don’t see the extra weight as being an issue, especially in a practice setting.
    —————————
    Strap a weight to your chest then that same weight to your legs at your knees or lower and then try to tell me there isn’t a massive difference. Small amounts of weight on extremities make a much bigger difference than larger amounts on the main body. Not to mention when you run the moving part is your legs. Up and down goes the weight while the body follows. A few pounds means a lot.

  16. nvh65 says: Aug 2, 2010 10:30 AM

    You get used to it. I play O line in an amateur league and I’ve worn knee braces for years.

  17. edgy says: Aug 2, 2010 12:36 PM

    It’s something that takes getting used to and let’s not forget that a lot of these guys that are NOW not wearing certain pads, were having to do so when they were younger. I think that QBs should definitely wear them and it might take a while for them to get used to the braces but the benefits far outweigh the consequences of a loss of a little speed.

  18. NomNoms says: Aug 2, 2010 5:56 PM

    Narn Skippy- this is a sport that a fraction of a second, inch, pound means everything. the guy wearing the brace gets beat 1/1000th of a time more then the guy who isnt… that means $ for the teams and the players
    nvh65 we dont care about your oldman flagfootball league.. im just sayin :)

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