The NFL owners voted on and passed an interesting rule change on Thursday at their league meetings in Boca Raton, Florida and this one pertains to how teams can handle players who are placed on the their Reserve/Injured list.
Staring this season, teams no longer have to designate a player who they hope can return from a long-term injury when they place that player on the their Reserve/Injured list. Instead, teams can now activate any one player back to their active roster during the season from their Reserve/Injured list with the only stipulation being that the player must first miss six weeks of action.
This is an excellent rule change, in my opinion, as teams sometimes have no control over whether or not certain players will suffer some sort of setback while they rehab. Case in point, last year, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was given the designated to return tag at the start of the season after he broke his left fibulae during the preseason. Pouncey, however, suffered a setback several weeks after having his initial surgery reportedly due to an infection that had set in during his rehab and that prevented him from being able to return to action later on in the season.
This rule change will really help teams when it comes to players who suffer long-term injuries that aren’t deemed season-ending-types. It is still unclear, however, as to whether or not teams will need to carry injured players on their initial 53-man roster after the final cuts take place in order for them to qualify to return from the Reserve/Injured list later on in the season. One would think that teams will now be able to place players on their Reserve/Injured list during the final cut downs, or sooner. Hopefully we will get some clarification on this in the near future.