Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Invasion of the Robots

From today’s Green Bay-Press-Gazette:

Coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t yet added robotic tackling dummies into the Packers’ practice regimen, but don’t be surprised if he does in the next year or two. The Packers are among the NFL teams that have contacted the company that manufactures the dummies, Mobile Virtual Player, though only the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams have placed orders. The Steelers are the lone NFL club that has used the robots in an open practice setting and talked publicly about them.

The robots offer a way for teams to practice tackling without subjecting ball carriers to hits. They can cover 40 yards in 5.0 seconds, change direction well enough to zig zag through cones, and they can spin. They weigh between 160 pounds and 180 pounds and cost about $8,000 each. “It didn’t work out this year,” McCarthy said, “but it’s a good product. You never really want to be first on things, you never want to be last. I think any new product there’s some hiccups you work through. But I think it’s an excellent, excellent product.”

“The people I’ve talked to, I haven’t heard anything negative about them,” McCarthy said. “It’s more about the drill work, how you incorporate. But I think it’s an excellent product. At the end of the day it’s about footwork. You have to work your feet. Guys don’t miss a tackle if you have to get your feet right first.”

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The next step — robotic players? That would erase the problems of concussions and life-altering permanent injuries.

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