By Ashley Dunkak

CBS DETROIT – Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew was spotted in a new helmet during this week’s minicamp – the Riddell SpeedFlex, which is designed to lessen the impact of the head-to-head collisions so prevalent in football.

The most obvious feature that distinguishes this helmet from the rest is a panel on the crown that can compress as much as a quarter of an inch, according to ESPN, which spoke to Thad Ide, the senior vice president for research and development at Riddell.

Riddell found that the added flexibility improved the impact response of the helmet.

Lions equipment manager Tim O’Neill pointed out another positive aspect of the SpeedFlex, which he discussed with ESPN in April.

“Forward rotation of the helmet can be a problem for some of our guys, so occipital lockdown is a big issue,” O’Neill said. “Some players commented on that as soon as they tried it on — they said they could feel it fitting better back there, almost like wearing a hat.”

Evidently, players have liked how the helmet looks, too, but these days they are conscious of the safety aspect as well as the fashion statement.

“Back when concussion-reduction helmets first came on the market, the first thing a player would do when he put one on was run to the bathroom so he could see how it looked in the mirror,” O’Neill told ESPN. “Is that element still there? Absolutely, but not as much. Today’s players are more educated. They ask better questions, and it all creates better dialogue. You can’t go a week now without seeing an article about concussions in USA Today or wherever, and the players read that stuff.”

The real test will begin in late July, when the players return to the team facility in Allen Park for training camp and the group can practice in pads for the first time all offseason.


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