NEW YORK (AP) — The players' union has approved a rule change on the eve of the season that will allow one designated player from each team to return from injured reserve instead of sitting out the entire year.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the change announced Thursday is the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. They have three players whose status is uncertain because of injuries suffered in training camp, with the most obvious being cornerback Terrell Thomas. He aggravated his surgically repaired tight anterior cruciate ligament in late July and has yet to practice.
Under the new rule, one "marquee" player" placed on injured reserve will be able to return to practice after the sixth week of the schedule and to the lineup after the eighth week. That player must be on the 53-man roster after the final preseason cut, which comes Friday. The player's injury must be one that prevents him from practicing or playing football for six weeks.
"I think it is a great rule in general," said Giants cornerback Michael Coe, who has moved into the starting lineup following injuries to Thomas, Prince Amukamara and Jayron Holsey. "Other sports have that, like baseball, guys go on and come off IR every day, like putting on your shoes."
The NFL has never had that. If a player was hurt and was going to be sidelined a month or more at the start of the season, he usually ended up on injured reverse.
"This is going to help every team which has an injury and has to do some shuffling," Coe said. "Guy won't have to miss the whole year."
Besides Thomas, the Giants also have questions about two defensive tackles. Second-year pro Marvin Austin has had back issues most of camp and veteran Shaun Rogers is sidelined with a blood clot in his left leg. A doctor has told him he might be able to play later this season.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said each club will have to review its roster and chose who to designate. He refused to say who the Giants would select.
"It depends on the team and the injury," he said. "Every injury that is a reasonable length of time I am sure is being considered by all the clubs."