Not long ago, a player placed on injured reserve had his season end. The league then altered the rules to allow for one player placed on injured reserve to return later in the year. Then, it was doubled.
Now, it may grow from two to three.
Via Albert Breer of SI.com, NFL owners will vote next week on the potential expansion of players who can be designated for return from IR. More importantly, the owners will vote on a twist as to the timing of the placement on IR.
Currently, the injured player must be included on the initial 53-man roster before being placed on IR in order to be designated for return. If approved, the new approach would allow a player who lands on IR the day before the roster reduction from 90 to 53 to late return from IR.
The current approach often results in a player who otherwise would have made the team being cut, which then exposes him to waivers or departure via free agency before he can be brought back. The proposed change would allow teams to avoid that glitch by setting up the potential IR return without going through the artificial exercise of keeping the injured player on the initial 53-man roster.
The potential changes are part of an ongoing effort to best balance giving injured players a legitimate chance to return to service without forcing the team to keep him on the roster against minimizing the possibility that a coach is simply stashing players who otherwise would be waived or released.