No gloves? Lions OL Taylor Boggs can handle it
Allen Park — Nearly every NFL player wears gloves these days. For offensive linemen, the extra apparel helps them keep their hands on defensive linemen as they sweat profusely during games.
Yet, Taylor Boggs, one of the Lions' surprise training camp stars, chooses not to wear gloves, making him easily recognizable during practices and the exhibition games.
"Dwight Stephenson never wore gloves. That's why," Boggs said, referencing the Hall of Famer who starred on the Miami Dolphins in the 1980s. "In my mind, the best center that ever played."
Fellow Lions interior offensive lineman Manny Ramirez doesn't always wear gloves, but when he doesn't, he'll use a significant amount of tape on his hands. Seeing Boggs' mostly bare hands has been impressive to the 32-year-old.
"That's a monster right there," Ramirez said.
Based on his play this summer, Boggs doesn't need the added stickiness during his play. Signed to a futures contract in January, the 28-year-old has distanced himself from the other guards and centers on the Lions' roster bubble, and if the team keeps five interior linemen — with Ramirez, Larry Warford, Laken Tomlinson and Travis Swanson locked in — Boggs could stick in Detroit for 2015.
And with Warford dealing with a high ankle sprain, putting his status for Week 1 up in the air, the Lions' decision regarding Boggs could be easier if they need the extra depth. Boggs can play any of the three interior spots, making him a valuable backup.
Before joining the Lions, Boggs spent time with the New York Jets and Chicago Bears since going undrafted out of Division II Humboldt State (Calif.) in 2011. He said players occasionally poke fun at his lack of gloves, including opposing defensive linemen.
"It doesn't come up as often as you would think," he said. "They just kind of laugh about it."
In addition to Stephenson's play helping convince Boggs he doesn't need gloves, he pays homage to another top center with a different part of his uniform. Like Hall of Famer Mike Webster, who spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Boggs has a bar going down the middle of his facemask.
The Lions coaches haven't mentioned to Boggs that he should add gloves, and even if they did, he'd probably stick with what he knows.
"I'm not going to change," he said. "I'm not going to break character for anybody."