There seems to be some misinformation floating around this morning in regard to the possible passing of the new injured reserve rule by the Players Association and the baring it would have on Pittsburgh Steelers players on the PUP list. The rule, if passed, would mean that each team would be allowed to designate one player to a special injury list that would allow the player to return to the roster in eight weeks and to the practice field in six weeks. That designation would allow that player to not count against the 53 man roster, but the player would not be lost for the entire season, which is what currently happens when a player is placed on the injured reserve list.
This new one player injured reserve rule would have no bearing on how players on the PUP list are treated by teams, because the rules of the PUP list allow for a player to remain on that list for up to 12 weeks in total. As I have stated several times previously, a player placed on the Reserve PUP list must miss the first 6 weeks of the season at a minimum. After those 6 weeks are up, a 3 week window then opens up that stipulates that the PUP player must start practicing within. Once that player begins practicing, a second 3 week window opens up in which the player must either be placed back on the 53 man roster, placed on injured reserve, or released by the end of it. Essentially a team has 12 weeks at their disposal with each and every player that is on their Reserve PUP list to start the season if they follow the rules and use the maximum time frame allotted by it.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who will most definitely start the regular season on the Steelers Reserve PUP list, does not have to begin practicing until week 9 at the latest. That is exactly what I expect to happen with him unless he is way ahead of schedule in his rehab. Once he begins practicing, he can be activated to the Steelers 53 man roster at any time, but a final decision on him does not have to be made until after week 12. The same rule applies for nose tackle Casey Hampton should he wind up starting the regular season on the Reserve PUP list as well.
The new IR rule would apply to players that were injured during training camp or the regular season. Remember, once a player starts practicing in training camp, he is no longer eligible for the Active PUP list and thus not eligible to be placed on the Reserve PUP list at the start of the season.
I like the creation of the new IR rule and hope it gets approved by the Players Association for those unique circumstances where a player would be out an extended amount of time, but not necessarily for the season.