• This is shaping up as an important transitional year for nose bumpers -- the little white panels at the base of each helmet's forehead area. The protocol for the past two dozen years has been simple: Nose bumpers on helmets made by Riddell -- the brand worn by about 70 percent of the league's players -- have carried the Riddell logo, while the bumpers of other helmet brands have either featured a team logo or, in a few cases, been left blank. But Riddell's endorsement deal with the league was not renewed for 2014, and now no manufacturer's marks will be allowed on any helmets, so teams are coming up with new designs to replace those Riddell logos. Titans players, for example, are now wearing the team's secondary logo. And raised or 3-D bumper graphics -- first worn in 2006 by the Giants and subsequently by a few other teams -- are suddenly a hot commodity for many teams, including the Jags, Dolphins, Raiders, Chargers, Jets, Steelers, Ravens and Niners. In addition, two teams simply went with blank bumpers for the preseason: the Chiefs and Broncos. Will they add a logo to their bumpers when the regular season starts? We'll have to wait and see.
• All teams will once again support breast cancer awareness by wearing pink accessories and pink ribbon helmet decals for games in October.
• Teams will also be wearing camouflage ribbon helmet decals to support the military during Weeks 10, 11 and 12.
• Expect to see a growing number of players wearing the latest thing in anti-concussion technology, the new Riddell SpeedFlex helmet, which is easily identifiable by its cut-out flex panel on the crown. Some teams are running their center striping tape right over the cut-out, while others are cutting the tape as it crosses the cut-out. You can learn a lot more about the SpeedFlex here.
• You may have noticed that all players have been wearing a USA Football "Heads Up" helmet decal during the preseason. That will be removed once the regular season starts.
• A little-noted change to every stadium this year: The goalposts are five feet taller!
• You won't be able to see it, but players will be wearing tracking devices in their shoulder pads this season, a move that's designed to create new statistic metrics. And head impact sensors could be coming as soon as next year.
That's it, at least for now. Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do.
Paul Lukas realizes that not everyone is as obsessed with nose bumpers as he is (although he can't understand why). If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.