Earlier this spring, NFL owners met to discuss a variety of potential rule changes. They tabled a few of those potential changes and they are finally back on the docket. The owners will meet and vote tomorrow on the following:
1. Allow one player to return from injured reserve list during the season
2. Move trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8
3. Make thigh and knee pads mandatory starting in 2013
The padding one will be an interesting one to follow. There has been some discussion about how it will have more of an impact on a player's self-perception of speed, but I have to think it impacts the speed of the game at least a little bit. Maybe not, what do I know?
The injured reserve rule would be a big one. Currently, a player placed on injured reserve is out for the season with no exceptions to return to the 53-man roster. This rule change opens the door for all sorts of possibilities. Even though it will only impact one player on a team, it would be fairly significant. Last year, the 49ers conceivably could have brought back Joshua Morgan late in the season.
For this season, Darius Fleming will likely start the season on the PUP list while the 49ers determine if he can return. If the 49ers think he can return, one option is to place him on IR for his return. However, if the team thinks he can return on the PUP timetable (first nine weeks I believe, give or take), they could leave him on the PUP list and use this IR spot for another player, if such an injury happens. Even though this only impacts on player, one could argue it creates a great deal more roster flexibility for training camp injuries.