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The National Football League’s (NFL) injured reserve (IR) rules have been modified for the 2012 season. The rule now allows one player per team to be activated from the IR list. In addition, the sport’s trade deadline has been pushed back.

Earlier, the sport’s franchise owners approved the rules; however, they were waiting for ratification by the NFL Players Association. The union approved the rule on August 30, 2012. As a consequence, each team had to reduce its roster to 53 players by 9 p.m. on Friday, August 31, 2012.

Before the enactment of this new rule, any player that was placed on the IR list was not eligible to play again for the same team in that season. With the new rule, each team is allowed to activate one player per season from the IR list.

The trade deadline has been moved until after the eighth week of the playing season. Previously, the trade deadline was after the season’s sixth weekend of games.

IR list rules summary

Following are the main points regarding the new IR list rule changes:

  • Only players with a “major injury” who are placed on the IR list after 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, or during the season are eligible to be reactivated later in the season.

  • A major injury is described as an injury that renders the player unable to practice or play football for at least six weeks — or 42 calendar days — from the date of injury.

  • A player who is placed on the IR list after 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, must be immediately “designated for return” at the time he is placed on the list. That designation must appear on that day’s Personnel Notice.

  • That designated player is eligible to return to practice if he has been on the IR list for at least six weeks from the date he was placed on Reserve. He is eligible to return to the active list if has been on the IR list for at least eight weeks from the date he is placed on Reserve.

Roster rules summary

In addition to the IR list, NFL teams use other mechanisms to manage their roster play list. A summary of those rules follows:

  • Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) — Players listed on the PUP’s regular season list are eligible to play after week 6, at which point they can begin practicing with the team.

    The team has a three-week window to either activate the player or send him to the injured reserve list. A player can be placed on the PUP list only if he has been on the preseason PUP list and has not been practicing with the team.

  • Waived/Injured — Teams are able to waive an injured player. Other teams can claim any player on the Waived/Injured list. If players clear their waivers, which most players do, their original team can either put them on the IR list or come to an injury settlement agreement and part ways.

  • Reserve/Non-Football Injury List — The rules for this list are the same as the PUP list; however, the injuries come from something other than playing football.

  • Practice Squad — Beginning on September 1, 2012, teams are able to complete an eight-man practice squad. For a team member to be eligible for this squad, the player must not have accrued a season of free agent eligibility.

    Eligibility for this squad is limited to players who do not have an accrued NFL season or were on an active 53-man roster list for less than nine games during their only accrued season. Players who have served two seasons on a practice squad are eligible for a third season if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of the player’s employment.

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