There will be several rule and bylaw change proposals on the table at the NFL owners\' annual spring meeting that begins down in Florida on Monday and a few of the ones that the Pittsburgh Steelers are pushing for I have briefly outlined in a previous post. Steelers.com has gone into greater detail now on a few of the things the owners will vote on and the one that catches my eye the most is the proposed change to the injured reserve.
The proposal seems to state that every team will have the ability to designate one player each to an eight week injured reserve list. According to Bob Labriola, the stipulation is that the player has to be on the 53 man roster at the start of the season to qualify for this eight week IR stay. This would allow a player who suffers an injury that cost him a considerable amount of playing time to be placed on the temporary injured reserve list without being lost for the season. That player would then not count against the 53 man roster and could be activated back to the 53 man roster after eight weeks.
This is different from the PUP list, because that takes place at the start of the season. For a player to qualify for PUP, he must start training camp on the Active PUP list and then must be moved to the Reserve PUP list at the start of the season. A player that begins the season on Reserve PUP does not count against the 53 man roster, but he must sit out at least the first six weeks of the season as a result. Teams have until week 13 at the latest to activate that player from PUP to the 53 man roster or he must be placed on injured reserve or released.
Labriola list quarterback Byron Leftwich as an example of a Steelers player that would have been a candidate for an eight week injured reserve spot last season after he broke his arm during a preseason game. I do not disagree with that, but being as the player reportedly has to be on the 53 man roster at the start of the season to qualify for the eight week injured reserve list, the Steelers would have likely had to carry four quarterbacks for the first week of the season. Leftwich was placed on injured reserve during the final week of roster moves last season, so he would have had to eat up one roster spot for one week to qualify. This would have cost Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon or another player at the bottom of the roster a spot and you never know for sure if that player will clear waivers or sign as a free agent elsewhere as a result.
This new rule, if passed by the owners, would not likely change the status of running back Rashard Mendenhall in 2012 however. I have detailed his situation recently and according to General Manager Kevin Colbert, he looks destined to start the 2012 season on the PUP list. It is still unknown how the recovery of nose tackle Casey Hampton is going right now in addition, but he too could be a candidate to start the season on PUP as he recovers from his knee surgery if not ready by training camp.
The rule certainly looks good on paper and we will wait to get more clarification on it if it is indeed passed. The biggest question I have is if indeed a player has to be on the 53 man roster at the start of the season. What if you promote a member of the practice squad to the 53 man roster in week 3 and he gets injured? Would he not qualify for the eight week injured reserve list if it was thought he could return and contribute?
I suspect this rule will get pushed through in some shape or form and I am all in favor it.