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Injured Reserve Rule Needs To Change

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The New York Giants' injury list heading into Saturday night's preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens is looooooooooooooong!

Players missing practice Thursday included center Shaun O'Hara (ankle), defensive linemen Jay Alford (knee), Chris Canty (groin) and Jason Pierre-Paul (groin), cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (calf) and Aaron Ross (foot), quarterback Jim Sorgi (shoulder), wide receivers Ramses Barden (back) and Sinorice Moss (groin), tight end Travis Beckum (neck), running back D.J. Ware (concussion) and safety Sh'reff Rashad (concussion). Alford, Canty and Pierre-Paul could play Saturday, but right now we don't know for sure.

Of more concern than Saturday, for me, is with all of these banged-up bodies how do the Giants set a 53-man roster in another 10 days or so?

From the sounds of it, Ross, O'Hara, Sorgi, maybe Beckum and Barden, and God knows who else will be less than 100 percent when the season opener against Carolina gets here.

All of this -- and Roger Goodell's unyielding desire to push through an 18-game regular season whether the players are happy about it or not, has me thinking again about something I have advocated for years now. That would a change to the Injured Reserve rule.

I believe it is time for the league to utilize more of a baseball-style disabled list. NFL teams should have the option of placing injured players on a 'disabled list' for, say, two games, four games or eight, and replace them on the roster for that time period. Currently, we know teams often have to IR a player because they simply can't protect his roster spot for six, eight, 12 weeks.

One of the big problems the NFL has right now is that rosters are watered down by injuries at the end of a 16-game season. Every team ends up with a handful of 'street free agents,' some of whom have not played football for a year or more and really don't belong in the league. That means the product is watered down.

I want to see teams able to bring players whose injuries are not truly season-ending back once they are healthy -- an option teams don't currently have unless they are willing or able to play short-handed while a player rehabs.

Let's take a look at the Giants and see how this rule change could help them.

Sorgi, for example, is trying to hurry back from a shoulder injury because he believes his roster spot could be in jeopardy if he doesn't. Wouldn't the Giants, and Sorgi, be better served if they could DL him for, say, four weeks and let him heal? Instead, they might be faced with a situation where they have to IR or cut him when they really don't want to.

What about Ross or O'Hara? Both of these guys might be better served by spending a couple of weeks on a disabled list rather than rushing back for the season opener. Yet, under the current rules that is likely what they will do. Partially because I'm certain they each really want to play. Also partially, though, because the Giants would be short-handed if they don't suit up and give it a try.

As part of the push for the 18-game season there is talk of roster expansion, and there is also some talk of adjustments to the Injured Reserve rule.

Eighteen-game season or not, it's time for the Injured Reserve rule to change.