More than 100 youth football players knelt in the grass in front of the white goal post, waiting to strap up their new helmets. First, they got a warning from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“You’ve still got to play the game by the rules,” Goodell said. “You don’t use your head as a weapon. You don’t use your helmets as a weapon. They’re there to protect you.”
Goodell took his message about player safety to the youngest level of the game on Saturday, attending a football clinic in Akron, Ohio, where players received new helmets through a partnership started by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Player safety has been one of Goodell’s overriding interests, sparking changes to outlaw dangerous hits. He said the change in the NFL is filtering down to the young fans who watch.
FALCONS: Cornerback Asante Samuel wouldn’t confirm if he has Oct. 28 highlighted on his digital calendar. But clearly he has taken note of a newspaper report that Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid felt his skills were in steep decline.
Samuel noted that the Falcons travel to play his former team in October.
“We’ll figure out who’s in steep decline then,” Samuel said.
COWBOYS: Rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne, who missed off-season workouts while recovering from wrist surgery, could now miss a week or more with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
“I can’t control this, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it,” Claiborne said after watching the team’s walk-through practice Saturday. “All I can do is go in there and do what I need to do with rehab.”
TITANS: Center Eugene Amano will miss the 2012 season with a torn triceps muscle in his right arm.
Amano started at center the past two seasons for the Titans.
BROWNS: Linebacker Chris Gocong is likely out for the season after injuring his right Achilles tendon.
BRONCOS: Signed free-agent safety Jim Leonhard.
The Broncos needed a reinforcement in the secondary after second-year starter Quinton Carter injured his right knee and hamstring in a nasty fall inside the team’s practice bubble July 27.