The NFL and NFLPA finally approved a new rule that would allow teams to designate one hurt player to be eligible to come off the injured reserve list late in the season. The two sides had been in discussions for months and it looked like the new rule might be shelved until next season at the earliest. They got it in just under the wire.
Previously, players placed on IR were unable to return to practice with or play for their team until the following season. Now, one player per team with a “major injury” is eligible be placed on IR, but then return to play for his team after a minimum of an eight-week absence.
Because the rule was put into play so late in the process this off-season, the NFL is making a special, one-year-only exception for players already placed on IR. Teams may activate one player currently on IR and re-designate him as its IR exception player.
The only star player likely to be affected is inside linebacker Desmond Bishop of the Green Bay Packers. Bishop is considered to be one of the most important players on the Packers and he was recently placed on IR after he suffered a major hamstring injury that is going to force him out of action for several months. The Packers were unwilling to carry him on their 53-man roster in hopes that he might return to the field in time for the playoffs, so they placed him on IR. Now, Bishop is eligible to come off IR later this season.