The NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association have agreed on a new 2012 Bylaw Proposal that will allow teams to bring one designated player off injured reserve to play this season.
This new rule should benefit the Giants, who could potentially designate a player like cornerback Terrell Thomas or defensive tackle Marvin Austin as their "designated for return" injured reserve player.
If a team chooses to take a player who has already been placed on IR during training camp and designate him as the IR player they want to be able to return later in the season, teams must designate this player by 9 p.m. on Friday. Giants who were placed on IR during the preseason are defensive end Justin Trattou, defensive tackle Martin Parker and offensive lineman Brandon Mosley.
For all other players who are not currently on IR, teams can only designate a player with a "major injury" for the new rule after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4, or thereafter during the season.
The rule defines a “major injury” as "an injury that renders the player unable to practice or play football for at least six weeks (42 calendar days) from the date of injury."
The "designated for return" IR player is eligible to practice after being on Reserve/Injured for at least six weeks from the date he is placed on IR. That player can return to the active roster "at least eight weeks from the date he is placed on Reserve."
So this rule would seemingly best fit a player like Thomas, who has been out since early in training camp after re-aggravating his twice-repaired right ACL. Thomas was hoping to get clearance to begin running this week again but it still could be a while before he is able to practice and play again.
Designating him as the IR player who can return later would allow the Giants to keep him on IR for at least eight weeks and still bring him back into the mix.
Austin has been sidelined by a back injury and there have been few details on the injury. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers also has been sidelined by a blood clot and Tom Coughlin says there is a ray of hope that he can return this season.
If the Giants are going to designate a player like Thomas or Austin, they'll have to keep that player on the 53-man roster and then designate him next Tuesday. So it provides roster flexibility for the season but doesn't help as far as cuts on Friday. Still, it will help the Giants potentially get a good player back into the mix midway through the season.
So who would you designate?