With the NFL draft finalized last month, teams have begun their off-season practices as they prepare for the upcoming season. While most of the 32 teams are using traditional equipment during those on-field workouts, the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying something new: robots.
Mike Tomlin and his staff have instituted the use of new-age tackling dummies as a way to mimic a defender’s movements as receivers and running backs alike improve their route running and footwork. Check out the video below, courtesy of the NFL:
The Mobile Virtual Player (or, MVP), was built by a group of engineers at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering when the college banned live tackling in practices. While at first glance the MVP may look a bit clumsy, it’s actually quite fast as you can see in the video. It’s ability to change direction quickly mimics a running back’s movement for defenders, and can “run” the 40-yard dash in about 5 seconds. For comparison, the NFL lists running back Chris Johnson with the combine’s fastest ever 40 time at 4.24 seconds in 2008.
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