I think several people are still confused about the injured reserve/designated rule as a few of you have emailed to ask if Pittsburgh Steelers rookies Jordan Zumwalt or Shaquille Richardson will be placed on it.
First, teams are only allowed to designate one player a season to return after being placed on injured reserve, so using that designation on a rookie that’s unlikely to play a snap all season on defense would be pretty foolish.
Second, in order for a player to qualify to be placed on the short-term injured reserve list at the start of a season, that player must be on the team’s 53 man roster come the first Tuesday after the final cut-down date. This year that date is September 2.
Third, the injury that results in a player being placed on the designated to return injured reserve list has to be a “major injury”. That means the injury will prevent the player from practicing or playing for at least six weeks from the date of the injury.
I think you will see that the clarified rules above make it easy to see that neither Zumwalt nor Richardson will be tabbed as a designated to return player. The same goes for rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who suffered an AC shoulder sprain Thursday night.