The NFL wanted to modify the IR rules and create a short term IR list. Under previous rules, when a player was designated for IR his season was over. NFL wanted to be able to place a player on IR and bring him back at some point in the season. This rule had to be agreed to by the NFLPA and because the relationship between the NFL and the player's union has grown so contentious, the NFLPA rejected the rule. They did this just because the NFL asked for it and they wanted to dig in their heels and be difficult. (My son used to do stuff like this when he was 5 years old). However, the NFLPA is supposed to represent the best interest of the players in their union and while this benefits the teams, giving them a little more flexibility in forming a roster, it clearly also benefits the players. First, the player brought back to the roster, even if it is only for 8 games, at least earns a half year's salary and can show his worth to the rest of the league. Second, the injured player would get a chance to come back, won't lose an entire season and can show his talent by playing, thereby increasing his earning power in future years. The union came to their senses and negotiated this rule change with the NFL, allowing each team to designate one player for IR who could be brought back later in the year.
This could benefit the Giants, who have a few players that were penciled in to be key contributors to this year's team, are injured now, but apparently do not have season-ending injuries and could come back in a few weeks. The players I am thinking of that fall into this category are Marvin Austin, Terrell Thomas and Shaun Rogers. The rule is tricky in its application:
(1) the designation to return has to be applied immediately when the player is moved to IR. In other words, a team CAN NOT move a player to IR and then three weeks later realize that the injury may not have been season-ending, and move him to this short term IR list. He has to be designated for eventual return at the time he is moved to IR.
(2) the player has to be on the 53 man roster when it is set at 9PM ET on Friday. Then he is moved to the short term IR list on Tuesday Sept 4 at 4PM. Once he is moved to IR, the team can bring in another player to replace him, but that player necessarily had to be off their 53 man roster in the 91 hour period (5 hours short of 4 days) between Friday 9PM and Tuesday 4PM. In that nearly-four day period, the player who was released by the team is also free to sign with any other team. In other words, player X would be released at cutdown time on Sunday. Player Y, who made the 53 man roster, would then be moved to the short term IR list on Tuesday reducing the roster to 52 and then the team could bring back player X to fill out the 53 man roster. The team could also bring in a player released from another team.
(3) The injury has to be a legitimate major injury, not one that the team kind of manufactures for the purpose of manipulating the roster.
(4) The player would be out for six weeks unable to practice and then could be activated, eligible to start practicing and would be eligible to play two weeks later.
Of the players I mentioned above, I don't think Rogers would be a good candidate, because you want to be sure that the player can come back and it's too uncertain for Rogers. Furthermore, he did some good things, but didn't really show that he is playing at a very high level. Marvin Austin does not really have a major injury - he has a back problem and might be able to come back in just a few weeks, perhaps even by the opener a week from yesterday. That leaves Terrell Thomas and he might be a good candidate, because he could need six weeks to rehab his knee and determine if he could come back. He seems to be optimistic that he can come back sooner, but Giants want to be cautious and see if he can make it back. There is still no certainty that he will be healthy, but the 6-8 week window seems like the right amount of time and he plays a position of great need in the NFL nowadays.