At the end of his Friday conference call, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if the team had the option of placing one player on a "shortened" injured reserve, a rule passed by NFL owners in May.
Belichick said that the rule change still needed to be passed by the NFL Players Association, adding "I don’t think there are any changes and I don’t really understand the whole process in this particular case for what would constitute, what would be necessary to even make that change."
According to ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton, teams were notified on Tuesday that the modified injured reserve rule, as well as a later trade deadline, also passed in May, are still awaiting approval by the NFLPA.
The modified injured reserve rule would allow teams to keep one player, who was injured before the regular season, off their active roster for only the first eight weeks of the regular season. Otherwise, injured reserve would remain season-ending.
These rule changes came into focus on Friday, as Belichick acknowledged that linebacker Dane Fletcher's knee injury "doesn't look good." According to multiple reports, Fletcher suffered a torn ACL. Since he suffered the injury before the start of the regular season, he could be subject to the modified rule, but given his reported injury, it is unlikely Fletcher would be able to return mid-season.