Vikings introduce soft helmets for some OTA sessions

USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have taken a significant step toward making offseason practices safer. For some of their OTA sessions, they’ve swapped out their helmets for soft-padded caps.

Via Vikings.com, equipment manager Dennis Ryan said that coach Mike Zimmer raised the idea in order to reduce contact between helmets and unprotected body parts during OTA sessions, while still providing some covering for the cranium.

“It’s an effort to keep the players safer, taking the helmets off,” Ryan said. “Zim’ wants the players to have some type of protection if they’re out there running around at a pretty good speed. They’ve got a little bit of protection for their heads and are taking the contact out of the practice.”

The Vikings couldn’t get purple versions of the soft-padded hats. They opted for white over black, so that the soft helmets would retain less heat.

“When you see them, I think like a boxing headgear or going back to the old leather days of the Duluth Eskimos with no facemask and leather helmets,” Ryan said. “Just strap it up and go.”

For years, players have complained about the fact that helmets strike shoulders and arms and legs during 11-on-11 sessions that are supposed to not be full speed but that easily become intense and fast-paced.

“I think the OTA process is about us building the chemistry, being around each other,” running back Dalvin Cook said earlier this week. “It’s less of the physical part, so I think Coach Zim came to the conclusion of taking the helmets off and still protecting us. I think the helmets, they’re comfortable, they feel good, and I think when it comes to OTAs, it’s less of the physical. It’s about getting that timing down and starting to know each other, building that chemistry. I think you know, Coach Zim, he knows that as a coach, so I think it was smart of him.”

Minnesota’s shift to the soft helmets comes at a time when players and coaches are engaged in ongoing communications regarding ways to make offseason workouts safer while still giving teams an opportunity to prepare for the coming season. Players from other teams should be asking their coaches to make the same change.

39 responses to “Vikings introduce soft helmets for some OTA sessions

  1. Ridiculous, football is football, you have to get in those tough practices and speaking as a wide receiver/quarterback you’ve got to get used to wearing a helmet. I’d rather practice in shorts and no pads with real helmets than to wear those soft helmets-hard helmets are a must. Get back to the original O.T. rules (sudden death), back to regular special team kickoffs, back to normal practices-what is the NFL coming too?

  2. It’s a copycat league, so I’d be surprised if the other 31 teams aren’t already inquiring about this. This actually sounds like a good idea. There’s always going to be some yahoo that causes an injury because he didn’t use the equipment correctly, but there’s going to be an exception with anything.

  3. sterling7 says:
    May 29, 2021 at 10:29 am
    Ridiculous, football is football
    //////
    Wow. Talk about an archaic and ignorant response. It’s almost as if you didn’t even bother to read the article. Oh, and you think professional football players need to “get used” to wearing helmets? As if they haven’t worn them since peewee football. And one last thing…the NFL is about money. Keeping players on the field is what actually makes the money.

  4. sterling7 says:
    May 29, 2021 at 10:29 am
    Ridiculous, football is football, you have to get in those tough practices and speaking as a wide receiver/quarterback you’ve got to get used to wearing a helmet. I’d rather practice in shorts and no pads with real helmets than to wear those soft helmets-hard helmets are a must. Get back to the original O.T. rules (sudden death), back to regular special team kickoffs, back to normal practices-what is the NFL coming too?

    ——————–

    “What is the NFL coming too?”….it’s come to the 21st century, where they openly treat it like what it is…a business. Teams don’t get much return on injured players, and injured players can’t maximize their earning potential. And not coincidentally, teams that suffer a lot of injuries, also suffer a lot of losses…which isn’t good for the owners, coaches, players, or fans.

  5. sterling7 says:
    May 29, 2021 at 10:29 am
    Ridiculous, football is football, you have to get in those tough practices and speaking as a wide receiver/quarterback you’ve got to get used to wearing a helmet. I’d rather practice in shorts and no pads with real helmets than to wear those soft helmets-hard helmets are a must. Get back to the original O.T. rules (sudden death), back to regular special team kickoffs, back to normal practices-what is the NFL coming too?
    —————————————————————————————–
    It’s pretty clear that science and reality are 2 things you just don’t have a handle on .

  6. I predict that someday this will be actual game day gear. Wearing those old “hair dryers” around your head has been proven not to absorb impact as well as these helmets. I hope the fashion show ends and player safety really is brought to the forefront. After all the NFL settled the concussion situation already. Time to move on up to better protection.

  7. One of the smartest ideas I’ve heard in a while. Sometimes the best solutions are simple. I hope this becomes adopted throughout the league.

  8. EXCELLENT! To see that there are some forward thinkers, and they are not being held back by the league, at least on this matter.

  9. Great Idea, leave it to an old school coach to come up with forward thinking assistant coaches. This lets the players to have fun and lessen the chance of getting injured.

  10. I don’t think its safer at all. Keep the helmet for protection, lose the faceguard. No guard will help keep them honest.

  11. Soft helmets for a soft team.
    Seems fitting. 🤔

  12. They’re concussion prevention helmets for light contact. Kids wear them in 7×7 tournaments all the time.

  13. Why did it take this long? Seems logical to take the helmet out of the pads aren’t being worn. Smart. Pads on, helmets on.

  14. Those are just the dorkiest looking things. Amazed the Colts didn’t do this first.

  15. In the future this will be the norm. Current Helmets will be a thing of the past

  16. Football used to be played in leather helmets, so I don’t see anything wrong with this.

  17. Good idea – adds safety and makes players feel the coach is looking out for them in this period to minimize injuries

  18. Great idea until someone gets hit in an unprotected face. Next up, going from shoulder pads to “boy in the bubble.” If injury issues are that prevalent in the off-season, then go to non-contact.

  19. “Current Helmets will be a thing of the past.”

    **

    More like past helmets will become current. These would go perfectly with throwback jerseys for the Midwestern teams…

  20. I have it on good authority the Vikings players have all decided to wear this swell-looking headgear 24/7.

  21. ghjjf says:
    May 29, 2021 at 12:11 pm
    Let’s see who’s dumb enough to try to use one of these helmets as a weapon!

    Is D J Swearinger still in the league?

  22. Packer front office brain trust requirement now for soft helmets in lieu of recent events

  23. The Pro Cap is about to go full circle. It worked for Mark Kelso, Steve Wallace and others who used the Pro Cap in the NFL because it helped them extend their football careers.

    A soft layer of padding over a hard shell…maybe someone will listen? The NFL brass know that Bert Straus’s invention worked to protect the players who used them.

  24. Only the Vikings could find something softer than their postseason failures!

  25. IN before the Union files a grievance for changing working conditions

  26. These look like those battery operated head air conditioners from Sharper Image. Very cool! (eye roll.)

  27. Oh.. Soft helmets… so the team is soft… I get it. Those Packer fans- always so clever.

  28. This is kinda revolutionary thinking that I bet spurs creativity. Look at the comments. It gets the ideas going. The NFL could use the pro bowl to test out different equipment (because we know there is no hard hitting in that game anyways.).

  29. not sure if someone said this earlier but, if you want to get rid of the concussions or at least not the way down go back to the soft helmets full-time. The hard helmet is a weapon and that’s the problem causing and receiving head trauma. It’s kinda like how ice hockey goalies did not need masks when the sticks were not curved.

  30. Hey, weren’t all the Viking’s starting WRs at that practice? Seems to me the “soft” players are the ones that dont show for practices.

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