When the NFL revealed that they had adjusted the rules of the injured reserve list, it was immediately assumed that the Pittsburgh Steelers would take advantage of the new rule. The NFL allows teams to designate one player on the injured reserve list as a player ‘designated for return’ after eight weeks. Steelers rookie offensive lineman David DeCastro was perfect for the spot.
DeCastro hurt his knee in the preseason but escaped season-ending injury. Unfortunately, DeCastro was hurt bad enough that he would be forced to miss at least half the season.
Instead of the Steelers just placing their first-round pick on IR and ending his season or simply keeping him on the roster so he could return, the team was given more flexibility by designating him as the one player with an IR exemption. The Steelers officially announced the move today.
It is still possible that DeCastro doesn’t see the field at all in 2012 but the designation allows the Steelers to look at their options while not occupying a roster spot with a player who may never play in the season. If DeCastro does get healthy enough to return, he would not be able to be activated from the IR until mid-December.