Exception could help Levi Brown, others

Details released by the NFL could spare Levi Brown and other NFL players on injured reserve.

That could come as welcome news following initial expectations to the contrary.

The new rule allowing teams to activate one seriously injured player from IR during the season includes an exception for 2012. For this year only, teams can extend the designation to a player already on IR before the mandatory reduction to 53 players Friday (Sept. 4 is the cutoff date, which aligns with Week 1 of the regular season).

Brown, the Arizona Cardinals' left tackle, was placed on IR a week ago after suffering a torn triceps. It's unclear whether he'll be healthy enough to play at some point this season. But the team does have an additional option.

"Since this rule is being adopted after the cutdown to 75 players, for 2012 only, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a transition procedure that permits clubs to return to their 53-player active list one player placed on Reserve/Injured since the start of preseason training camp," the NFL said. "This selection of that player must be made no later than 9 ET tomorrow, Friday, August 31."

We'll soon know whether the Cardinals think Brown might return. The rest of the rules read as follows:

  • Only players with a "major injury" (those preventing a player from practicing or playing for at least 42 calendar days) are eligible.

  • Qualifying players must be "designated for return" at the time the player lands on IR.

  • Qualifying players can return to practice after the 42-day period, but they cannot play until at least eight weeks have passed since the player was placed on IR.

The NFL has similar rules in place for players deemed "physically unable to perform" before and throughout training camps. Those rules remain in place.