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June 17, 2014

Cowboys requiring linemen to wear knee braces

The Cowboys are requiring their linemen to wear knee braces. Both offensive and defensive linemen wore the custom-made braces in practice Tuesday.

The team has not decided whether it will require them in games.

"We’re going to have them in practice right now and see how guys respond to them," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We think it’s good. It’s a good preventative measure. Sometimes guys get rolled up on the offensive and defensive line. It happens away from them, a guy falls on them. It’s been a long study through the years, it’s been going on for 30-plus years, about the value of knee braces. I’ve been on teams that used them, haven’t used them, swear by them, don’t think they make any difference. We just think as an organization it’s a good thing for us to be able to do. We got them all custom made for those guys. They’re wearing them now for practice. We’ll make our evaluations as we go forward.”

The braces are designed to protect the knee's ligaments from lateral impacts. Some of the linemen already are complaining about wearing them, though, Garrett admitted.

"Particularly the defensive linemen," Garrett said. "They don’t like to wear them. Players are constantly trying to shed. Smaller pads, smaller this, lighter this. There’s been a big discussion in the league making sure everybody wears their pads. Think about players in the NFL not wearing knee and thigh pads in that kind of competitive contact type situation. This has been going on for years. Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves.”

Bill Parcells required the Cowboys' linemen to wear braces when he was the team's head coach from 2003-06.

"I've been doing this since about 1988," Parcells said back then. "My experience has been that it prevents some, not all, but some [knee injuries]."

-- Charean Williams




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