New Rule Change Won’t Tie Steelers Hands With Injured CB Senquez Golson

Tuesday morning it was reported that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year cornerback Senquez Golson suffered a Lisfranc injury during Monday’s training camp practice that could possibly keep him out of action for the next 12 weeks. Should that report wind up being confirmed by the team, there’s a good chance that Golson will start the 2016 regular season on the Reserve/Injured list.

Thanks to a rule change this past offseason, the Steelers won’t have to designate Golson as an injured reserve player who can return later in the season upon placing him on the list, should that ultimately be the course of action. The new bylaw that was passed by NFL team owners during the offseason states that teams can choose one player to return to practice among their players already on injured reserve, provided that player has spent at least six weeks on injured reserve. That player would then be able to return to the active roster and play in a game two weeks later.

In other words, the Steelers can wait and see what ultimately happens not only with Golson and his rehab, but other long-term injuries that might take place as well in the coming weeks and months. This at least gives them some degree of flexibility when it comes to Golson and perhaps a few other future injured players.

However, being as Golson’s injury took place during the early stages of training camp, he’ll have roughly five full weeks of rehab behind him prior to the Steelers needing to decide whether or not they want to place him on their Reserve/Injured list. While it’s probably a long shot to happen, they could ultimately decide to carry Golson on their initial 53-man roster with hopes that he can return to action during the first quarter of the season. If, however, in five weeks they know he’s still 7 or more weeks away from being fully healthy, it would of course make sense to place him on the Reserve/Injured list for a possible return during the second half of the regular season.

While the original designated to return rule was a welcome change, it didn’t work in the Steelers favor last year as center Maurkice Pouncey wound up missing the entire 2015 season due to him needing multiple surgeries after initially breaking his fibula during the preseason. Being as the Steelers had placed the designated return tag on Pouncey just prior to Week 1, other players who may have had less than season-ending injuries weren’t afforded the opportunity to return to action after being placed on the team’s Reserve/Injured list.

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