I posted this in another thread, but I am looking for some clarification.... Hopefully Neal might know, he seems to be on top of everything!
It has been my opinion that Mendenhall should been placed on the new IR and designated to return, and DeCastro should be placed on the "normal" IR thus ending his year. My thought process on that was two fold.
First, the OL play depends as much on chemistry as anything. If DeCastro can't come back until December, and barring any more injuries, our OL has either come together and the Steelers are playing well, or it is in shambles and we are struggling.... And listen, going against the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Ravens (2x), if our OL is struggling Ben is catching a beaten and we are losing. My assumption is, they will be playing well enough that inserting someone who has not played or practice since August will only disrupt any unity they have and a plus (having DeCastro back), might turn into a minus.
Second, and most important, his health and his knee. Being an OL and having a lower body injury is not good. I am not saying he will not be healed enough to play in December, but will he be 100%? Will he be able to protect himself? Will he be overcompensating and risk injuring something else? And, if he reinjures the same knee, what then. I realize the NFL is a win now league, and I was as vocal as anyone in wanting DeCastro, but I would not bring him back in hopes he can help out. I would not take any chances with a guy who, with Pouncey, are young enough to anchor our OL for the next decade.
Okay, anyway, back to the clarification part........ The new rule states: "The player can practice six weeks from the date he is placed on IR. He is eligible to return to the active 53-man roster and play in regular-season games if he has been on Reserve/Injured for at least eight weeks from the date of the initial transaction."
Now, Rashard Mendenhall was originally placed on IR for a torn right acl (certainly a "major" injury) on January 3, 2012. The Steelers then took all the players they had on IR off on February 6th. Was this a procedural move that all teams must do at the end of each season? Then, to start training camp, Mendenhall was placed on active/PUP, and did not practice...... And I do not believe he has suited up and practiced at any point since he was taken off PUP on August 17.
So, could the Steelers place Mendenhall back on IR and designate him to return, and if so..... Since he was on the IR at the end of last year, and he has not practiced at all this year, would the 6 and 8 week rules apply to him from the beginning of this year? As I read it, "six weeks from the date he is placed on the IR" has already passed, and "eight weeks after the initial transaction" has already passed also. To me, unless it stipulates the 6 and 8 weeks start from the beginning of each new year, then would it be possible to add Mendenhall to the IR now and return him to the active roster in say 4 or 5 weeks?
I hope I explained my question correctly. Thanks for any input.... I have read as much as I can regrading this, but I can not find if the rules are retroactive to last year, if the taking of players off IR in February is a procedural thing all teams must do, and if training camp or preseason counts as "weeks." I am sure the Steelers can show if they were actually playing games up to this point, and not trying to jockey rosters around, that Mendenhall would have never come off the IR.